LIVES OF THE MOST EMINENT PAINTERS SCULPTORS & ARCHITECTS
|Academicians of Design, Painters, Sculptors, and Architects||3|
|Description of the Festive Preparations for the Nuptials of the Prince Don Francesco of Tuscany||37|
|Index of Names||227|
|General Index, Volumes I to X||231|
|Agnolo Bronzino||Bartolommeo Panciatichi||Florence: Uffizi, 159||4|
|Agnolo Bronzino||Eleanora de Toledo and her Son||Florence: Uffizi, 172||6|
|Agnolo Bronzino||Christ in Limbo||Florence: Uffizi, 1271||8|
|Alessandro Allori||Giuliano de' Medici||Florence: Uffizi, 193||12|
|Benvenuto Cellini||Perseus||Florence: Loggia de' Lanzi||22|
|Giovanni Bologna||Fountain of Neptune||Bologna||24|
|Giovanni Bologna||Mercury||Florence: Museo Nazionale||26|
|Vincenzio Danti||The Brazen Serpent||Florence: Museo Nazionale||28|
|Vincenzio Danti||Bronze Relief||Florence: Museo Nazionale||30|
|Giorgio Vasari||Lorenzo the Magnificent and the Ambassadors||Florence: Palazzo Vecchio||208|
|Giorgio Vasari||Fresco in the Hall of Lorenzo the Magnificent||Florence: Palazzo Vecchio||214|
Having written hitherto of the lives and works of the most excellent painters, sculptors, and architects, from Cimabue down to the present day, who have passed to a better life, and having spoken with the opportunities that came to me of many still living, it now remains that I say something of the craftsmen of our Academy of Florence, of whom up to this point I have not had occasion to speak at sufficient length. And beginning with the oldest and most important, I shall speak first of Agnolo, called Bronzino, a Florentine painter truly most rare and worthy of all praise.
Agnolo, then, having been many years with Pontormo, as has been told, caught his manner so well, and so imitated his works, that their pictures have been taken very often one for the other, so similar they were for a time. And certainly it is a marvel how Bronzino learned the manner of Pontormo so well, for the reason that Jacopo was rather strange and shy than otherwise even with his dearest disciples, being such that he would never let anyone see his works save when completely finished. But notwithstanding this, so great were the patience and lovingness of Agnolo towards Pontormo, that he was forced always to look kindly upon him, and to love him as a son. The first works of account that Bronzino executed, while still a young man, were in the Certosa of Florence, over a door that leads from the great cloister into the chapter-house, on two arches, one within and the other without. On that without is a Pietà, with two Angels, in fresco, and on that within is a nude S. Laurence upon the gridiron, painted in oil-colours on the wall; [Pg 4] which works were a good earnest of the excellence that has been seen since in the works of this painter in his mature years. In the Chapel of Lodovico Capponi, in S. Felicita at Florence, Bronzino, as has been said in another place, painted two Evangelists in two round pictures in oils, and on the vaulting he executed some figures in colour. In the Abbey of the Black Friars at Florence, in the upper cloister, he painted in fresco a story from the life of S. Benedict, when he throws himself naked on the thorns, which is a very good picture. In the garden of the Sisters called the Poverine, he painted in fresco a most beautiful tabernacle, wherein is Christ appearing to the Magdalene in the form of a gardener. And in S. Trinita, likewise in Florence, may be seen a picture in oils by the same hand, on the first pilaster at the right hand, of the Dead Christ, Our Lady, S. John, and S. Mary Magdalene, executed with much diligence and in a beautiful manner. And during that time when he executed these works, he also painted many portraits of various persons, and other pictures, which gave him a great name.
(After the painting by Angelo Bronzino. Florence: Uffizi, 159)
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Then, the siege of Florence being ended and the settlement made, he went, as has been told elsewhere, to Pesaro, where under the protection of Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino, besides the above-mentioned harpsichord-case full of figures, which was a rare thing, he executed the portrait of that lord and one of a daughter of Matteo Sofferoni, which was a truly beautiful picture and much extolled. He also executed at the Imperiale, a villa of the said Duke, some figures in oils on the spandrels of a vault; and more of these he would have done if he had not been recalled to Florence by his master, Jacopo Pontormo, that he might assist him to finish the Hall of Poggio a Caiano. And having arrived in Florence, he painted as it were by way of pastime, for Messer Giovanni de Statis, Auditor to Duke Alessandro, a little picture of Our Lady which was a much extolled work, and shortly afterwards, for Monsignor Giovio, his friend, the portrait of Andrea Doria; and for Bartolommeo Bettini, to fill certain lunettes in a chamber, the portraits of Dante, Petrarca, and Boccaccio, half-length figures of great beauty. Which pictures finished, he made portraits of Bonaccorso Pinadori, Ugolino Martelli, Messer Lorenzo Lenzi, now Bishop of Fermo, and Pier Antonio Bandini and [Pg 5] his wife, with so many others, that it would be a long work to seek to make mention of them all; let it suffice that they were all very natural, executed with incredible diligence, and finished so well, that nothing more could be desired. For Bartolommeo Panciatichi he painted two large pictures of Our Lady, with other figures, beautiful to a marvel and executed with infinite diligence, and, besides these, portraits of him and his wife, so natural that they seem truly alive, and nothing is wanting in them save breath. For the same man he has painted a picture of Christ on the Cross, which is executed with much study and pains, insomuch that it is clearly evident that he copied it from a real dead body fixed on a cross, such is the supreme excellence and perfection of every part. For Matteo Strozzi he painted in fresco, in a tabernacle at his villa of S. Casciano, a Pietà with some Angels, which was a very beautiful work. For Filippo d' Averardo Salviati he executed a Nativity of Christ in a small picture with little figures, of such beauty that it has no equal, as everyone knows, that work being now in engraving; and for Maestro Francesco Montevarchi, a most excellent physicist, he painted a very beautiful picture of Our Lady and some other little pictures full of grace. And he assisted his master Pontormo, as was said above, to execute the work of Careggi, whereon the spandrels of the vaults he painted with his own hand five figures, Fortune, Fame, Peace, Justice, and Prudence, with some children, all wrought excellently well.
Duke Alessandro being then dead and Cosimo elected, Bronzino assisted the same Pontormo in the work of the Loggia of Castello. For the nuptials of the most illustrious Lady, Leonora di Toledo, the wife of Duke Cosimo, he painted two scenes in chiaroscuro in the court of the Medici Palace, and on the base that supported the horse made by Tribolo, as was related, some stories of the actions of Signor Giovanni de' Medici, in imitation of bronze; all which were the best pictures that were executed in those festive preparations. Wherefore the Duke, having recognized the ability of this man, caused him to set his hand to adorning a chapel of no great size in the Ducal Palace for the said Lady Duchess, a woman of true worth, if ever any woman was, and for her infinite merits worthy of eternal praise. In that chapel Bronzino made on the vault some compartments [Pg 6] with very beautiful children and four figures, each of which has the feet turned towards the walls—S. Francis, S. Jerome, S. Michelagnolo, and S. John; all executed with the greatest diligence and lovingness. And on the three walls, two of which are broken by the door and the window, he painted three stories of Moses, one on each wall. Where the door is, he painted the story of the snakes or serpents raining down upon the people, with many beautiful considerations in figures bitten by them, some of whom are dying, some are dead, and others, gazing on the Brazen Serpent, are being healed. On another wall, that of the window, is the Rain of Manna; and on the unbroken wall the Passing of the Red Sea, and the Submersion of Pharaoh; which scene has been printed in engraving at Antwerp. In a word, this work, executed as it is in fresco, has no equal, and is painted with the greatest possible diligence and study. In the altar-picture of this chapel, painted in oils, which was placed over the altar, was Christ taken down from the Cross, in the lap of His Mother; but it was removed from there by Duke Cosimo for sending as a present, as a very rare work, to Granvella, who was once the greatest man about the person of the Emperor Charles V. In place of that altar-piece the same master has painted another like it, which was set over the altar between two pictures not less beautiful than the altar-piece, in which pictures are the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin receiving from him the Annunciation; but instead of these, when the first altar-picture was removed, there were a S. John the Baptist and a S. Cosimo, which were placed in the guardaroba when the Lady Duchess, having changed her mind, caused the other two to be painted.
ELEANORA DE TOLEDO AND HER SON
(After the painting by Angelo Bronzino. Florence: Uffizi, 172)
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The Lord Duke, having seen from these and other works the excellence of this painter, and that it was his particular and peculiar field to portray from life with the greatest diligence that could be imagined, caused him to paint a portrait of himself, at that time a young man, fully clad in bright armour, and with one hand upon his helmet; in another picture the Lady Duchess, his consort, and in yet another picture the Lord Don Francesco, their son and Prince of Florence. And no long time passed before he portrayed the same Lady Duchess once again, to do her pleasure, in a different manner from the first, with the Lord Don Giovanni, her son, [Pg 7] beside her. He also made a portrait of La Bia, a young girl, the natural daughter of the Duke; and afterwards all the Duke's children, some for the first time and others for the second—the Lady Donna Maria, a very tall and truly beautiful girl, the Prince Don Francesco, the Lord Don Giovanni, Don Garzia, and Don Ernando, in a number of pictures which are all in the guardaroba of his Excellency, together with the portraits of Don Francesco di Toledo, Signora Maria, mother of the Duke, and Ercole II, Duke of Ferrara, with many others. About the same time, also, he executed in the Palace for the Carnival, two years in succession, two scenic settings and prospect-views for comedies, which were held to be very beautiful. And he painted a picture of singular beauty that was sent to King Francis in France, wherein was a nude Venus, with a Cupid who was kissing her, and Pleasure on one side with Play and other Loves, and on the other side Fraud and Jealousy and other passions of love. The Lord Duke had caused to be begun by Pontormo the cartoons of the tapestries in silk and gold for the Sala del Consiglio de' Dugento; and, having had two stories of the Hebrew Joseph executed by the said Pontormo, and one by Salviati, he gave orders that Bronzino should do the rest. Whereupon he executed fourteen pieces with the excellence and perfection which everyone knows who has seen them; but since this was an excessive labour for Bronzino, who was losing too much time thereby, he availed himself in the greater part of these cartoons, himself making the designs, of Raffaello dal Colle, the painter of Borgo a San Sepolcro, who acquitted himself excellently well.
Now Giovanni Zanchini had built a chapel very rich in carved stone, with his family tombs in marble, opposite to the Chapel of the Dini in S. Croce at Florence, on the front wall, on the left hand as one enters the church by the central door; and he allotted the altar-piece to Bronzino, to the end that he might paint in it Christ descended into the Limbo of Hell in order to deliver the Holy Fathers. Agnolo, then, having set his hand to it, executed that work with the utmost possible diligence that one can use who desires to acquire glory by such a labour; wherefore there are in it most beautiful nudes, men, women, and children, young and old, with different features and attitudes, and portraits of men that are very [Pg 8] natural, among which are Jacopo da Pontormo, Giovan Battista Gello, a passing famous Academician of Florence, and the painter Bacchiacca, of whom we have spoken above. And among the women he portrayed there two noble and truly most beautiful young women of Florence, worthy of eternal praise and memory for their incredible beauty and virtue, Madonna Costanza da Sommaia, wife of Giovan Battista Doni, who is still living, and Madonna Camilla Tedaldi del Corno, who has now passed to a better life. Not long afterwards he executed another large and very beautiful altar-picture of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which was placed in the Chapel of Jacopo and Filippo Guadagni beside the choir in the Church of the Servites—that is, the Nunziata. And at this same time he painted the altar-piece that was placed in the chapel of the Palace, whence there had been removed that which was sent to Granvella; which altar-piece is certainly a most beautiful picture, and worthy of that place. Bronzino then painted for Signor Alamanno Salviati a Venus with a Satyr beside her, so beautiful as to appear in truth Venus Goddess of Beauty.
CHRIST IN LIMBO
(After the panel by Angelo Bronzino. Florence: Uffizi, 1271)
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Having then gone to Pisa, whither he was summoned by the Duke, he executed some portraits for his Excellency; and for Luca Martini, who was very much his friend, and not of him only, but also attached with true affection to all men of talent, he painted a very beautiful picture of Our Lady, in which he portrayed that Luca with a basket of fruits, from his having been the minister and proveditor for the said Lord Duke in the draining of the marshes and other waters that rendered unhealthy the country round Pisa, and for having made it in consequence fertile and abundant in fruits. Nor did Bronzino depart from Pisa before there was allotted to him at the instance of Martini, by Raffaello del Setaiuolo, the Warden of Works of the Duomo, the altar-picture for one of the chapels in that Duomo, wherein he painted a nude Christ with the Cross, and about Him many Saints, among whom is a S. Bartholomew flayed, which has the appearance of a true anatomical subject and of a man flayed in reality, so natural it is and imitated with such diligence from an anatomical subject. That altar-picture, which is beautiful in every part, was placed, as I have said, in a chapel from which they removed [Pg 9] another by the hand of Benedetto da Pescia, a disciple of Giulio Romano. Bronzino then made for Duke Cosimo a full-length portrait of the dwarf Morgante, nude, and in two ways—namely, on one side of the picture the front, and on the other the back, with the bizarre and monstrous members which that dwarf has; which picture, of its kind, is beautiful and marvellous. For Ser Carlo Gherardi of Pistoia, who from his youth was a friend of Bronzino, he executed at various times, besides the portrait of Ser Carlo himself, a very beautiful Judith placing the head of Holofernes in a basket, and on the cover that protects that picture, in the manner of a mirror, a Prudence looking at herself; and for the same man a picture of Our Lady, which is one of the most beautiful things that he has ever done, because it has extraordinary design and relief. And the same Bronzino executed the portrait of the Duke when his Excellency was come to the age of forty, and also that of the Lady Duchess, both of which are as good likenesses as could be. After Giovan Battista Cavalcanti had caused a chapel to be built in S. Spirito, at Florence, with most beautiful variegated marbles conveyed from beyond the sea at very great cost, and had laid there the remains of his father Tommaso, he had the head and bust of the father executed by Fra Giovanni Agnolo Montorsoli, and the altar-piece Bronzino painted, depicting in it Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene in the form of a gardener, and more distant two other Maries, all figures executed with incredible diligence.
Jacopo da Pontormo having left unfinished at his death the chapel in S. Lorenzo, and the Lord Duke having ordained that Bronzino should complete it, he finished in the part where the Deluge is many nudes that were wanting at the foot, and gave perfection to that part, and in the other, where at the foot of the Resurrection of the Dead many figures were wanting over a space about one braccio in height and as wide as the whole wall, he painted them all in the manner wherein they are to be seen, very beautiful; and between the windows, at the foot, in a space that remained there unpainted, he depicted a nude S. Laurence upon a gridiron, with some little Angels about him. In that whole work he demonstrated that he had executed his paintings in that place with much better judgment than his master Pontormo had shown in his pictures [Pg 10] in the work; the portrait of which Pontormo Bronzino painted with his own hand in a corner of that chapel, on the right hand of the S. Laurence. The Duke then gave orders to Bronzino that he should execute two large altar-pictures, one containing a Deposition of Christ from the Cross with a good number of figures, for sending to Porto Ferraio in the Island of Elba, for the Convent of the Frati Zoccolanti, built by his Excellency in the city of Cosmopolis; and another altar-piece, in which Bronzino painted the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the new Church of the Knights of S. Stephen, which has since been built in Pisa, together with their Palace and Hospital, after the designs and directions of Giorgio Vasari. Both these pictures have been finished with such art, diligence, design, invention, and supreme loveliness of colouring, that it would not be possible to go further; and no less, indeed, was required in a church erected by so great a Prince, who has founded and endowed that Order of Knights.
On some little panels made of sheet-tin, and all of one same size, the same Bronzino has painted all the great men of the House of Medici, beginning with Giovanni di Bicci and the elder Cosimo down to the Queen of France, in that line, and in the other from Lorenzo, the brother of the elder Cosimo, down to Duke Cosimo and his children; all which portraits are set in order behind the door of a little study that Vasari has caused to be made in the apartment of new rooms in the Ducal Palace, wherein is a great number of antique statues of marble and bronzes and little modern pictures, the rarest miniatures, and an infinity of medals in gold, silver, and bronze, arranged in very beautiful order. These portraits of the illustrious men of the House of Medici are all natural and vivacious, and most faithful likenesses.
It is a notable thing that whereas many are wont in their last years to do less well than they have done in the past, Bronzino does as well and even better now than when he was in the flower of his manhood, as the works demonstrate that he is executing every day. Not long ago he painted for Don Silvano Razzi, a Camaldolite monk in the Monastery of the Angeli at Florence, who is much his friend, a picture about one braccio and a half high of a S. Catharine, so beautiful and well executed, that it is [Pg 11] not inferior to any other picture by the hand of this noble craftsman; insomuch that nothing seems to be wanting in her save the spirit and that voice which confounded the tyrant and confessed Christ her well-beloved spouse even to the last breath; and that father, like the truly gentle spirit that he is, has nothing that he esteems and holds in price more than that picture. Agnolo made a portrait of the Cardinal, Don Giovanni de' Medici, the son of Duke Cosimo, which was sent to the Court of the Emperor for Queen Joanna; and afterwards that of the Lord Don Francesco, Prince of Florence, which was a picture very like the reality, and executed with such diligence that it has the appearance of a miniature. For the nuptials of Queen Joanna of Austria, wife of that Prince, he painted in three large canvases which were placed at the Ponte alla Carraia, as will be described at the end, some scenes of the Nuptials of Hymen, of such beauty that they appeared not things for a festival, but worthy to be set in some honourable place for ever, so finished they were and executed with such diligence. For the same Lord Prince he painted a few months ago a small picture with little figures which has no equal, and it may be said that it is truly a miniature. And since at this his present age of sixty-five he is no less enamoured of the matters of art than he was as a young man, he has undertaken recently, according to the wishes of the Duke, to execute two scenes in fresco on the wall beside the organ in the Church of S. Lorenzo, in which there is not a doubt that he will prove the excellent Bronzino that he has always been.
This master has delighted much, and still delights, in poetry; wherefore he has written many capitoli and sonnets, part of which have been printed. But above all, with regard to poetry, he is marvellous in the style of his capitoli after the manner of Berni, insomuch that at the present day there is no one who writes better in that kind of verse, nor things more fanciful and bizarre, as will be seen one day if all his works, as is believed and hoped, come to be printed. Bronzino has been and still is most gentle and a very courteous friend, agreeable in his conversation and in all his affairs, and much honoured; and as loving and liberal with his possessions as a noble craftsman such as he is could well be. He has been peaceful by nature, and has never done an injury to [Pg 12] any man, and he has always loved all able men in his profession, as I know, who have maintained a strait friendship with him for three-and-forty years, that is, from 1524 down to the present year, ever since I began to know and to love him in that year of 1524, when he was working at the Certosa with Pontormo, whose works I used as a youth to go to draw in that place.
GIULIANO DE' MEDICI
(After the painting by Alessandro Allori. Florence: Uffizi, 193)
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Many have been the pupils and disciples of Bronzino, but the first (to speak now of our Academicians) is Alessandro Allori, who has been loved always by his master, not as a disciple, but as his own son, and they have lived and still live together with the same love, one for another, that there is between a good father and his son. Alessandro has shown in many pictures and portraits that he has executed up to his present age of thirty, that he is a worthy disciple of so great a master, and that he is seeking by diligence and continual study to arrive at that rarest perfection which is desired by beautiful and exalted intellects. He has painted and executed all with his own hand the Chapel of the Montaguti in the Church of the Nunziata—namely, the altar-piece in oils, and the walls and vaulting in fresco. In the altar-piece is Christ on high, and the Madonna, in the act of judging, with many figures in various attitudes and executed very well, copied from the Judgment of Michelagnolo Buonarroti. About that altar-piece, on the same wall, are four large figures in the forms of Prophets, or rather, Evangelists, two above and two below; and on the vaulting are some Sibyls and Prophets executed with great pains, study, and diligence, he having sought in the nudes to imitate Michelagnolo. On the wall which is at the left hand looking towards the altar, is Christ as a boy disputing in the midst of the Doctors in the Temple; which boy is seen in a fine attitude answering their questions, and the Doctors, and others who are there listening attentively to him, are all different in features, attitudes, and vestments, and among them are portraits from life of many of Alessandro's friends, which are good likenesses. Opposite to that, on the other wall, is Christ driving from the Temple those who with their buying and selling were making it a house of traffic and a market-place; with many things worthy of consideration and praise. Over those two scenes are some stories of the Madonna, and on the [Pg 13] vaulting figures that are of no great size, but passing graceful; with some buildings and landscapes, which in their essence show the love that he bears to art, and how he seeks the perfection of design and invention. And opposite to the altar-piece, on high, is a story of Ezekiel, when he saw a great multitude of bones reclothe themselves with flesh and take to themselves their members; in which this young man has demonstrated how much he desires to master the anatomy of the human body, and how he has studied it and given it his attention. And, in truth, in this his first work of importance, as also in the nuptials of his Highness, with figures in relief and stories in painting, he has proved himself and given great signs and promise, as he continues to do, that he is like to become an excellent painter; and not in this only, but in some other smaller works, and recently in a small picture full of little figures in the manner of miniature, which he has executed for Don Francesco, Prince of Florence, a much-extolled work; and other pictures and portraits he has painted with great study and diligence, in order to become practised and to acquire a grand manner.
Another young man, likewise a pupil of Bronzino and one of our Academicians, called Giovan Maria Butteri, has shown good mastery and much dexterity in what he did, besides many other smaller pictures and other works, for the obsequies of Michelagnolo and for the coming of the above-named most illustrious Queen Joanna to Florence.
And another disciple, first of Pontormo and then of Bronzino, has been Cristofano dell' Altissimo, a painter, who, after having executed in his youth many pictures in oils and some portraits, was sent by the Lord Duke Cosimo to Como, to copy many pictures of illustrious persons in the Museum of Monsignor Giovio, out of the vast number which that man, so distinguished in our times, collected in that place. Many others, also, the Lord Duke has obtained by the labours of Vasari; and of all these portraits a list will be made in the index of this book, in order not to occupy too much space in this discourse. In the work of these portraits Cristofano has exerted himself with such diligence and pains, that those which he has copied up to the present day, and which are in three friezes [Pg 14] in a guardaroba of the said Lord Duke, as will be described elsewhere in speaking of the decorations of that place, are more than two hundred and eighty in number, what with Pontiffs, Emperors, Kings, Princes, Captains of armies, men of letters, and, in short, all men for some reason illustrious and renowned. And, to tell the truth, we owe a great obligation to this zeal and diligence of Giovio and of the Duke, for the reason that not only the apartments of Princes, but also those of many private persons, are now being adorned with portraits of one or other of those illustrious men, according to the country, family, and particular affection of each person. Cristofano, then, having established himself in this manner of painting, which is suited to his genius, or rather, inclination, has done little else, as one who is certain to derive from it honour and profit in abundance.
Pupils of Bronzino, also, are Stefano Pieri and Lorenzo della Sciorina, who have so acquitted themselves, both the one and the other, in the obsequies of Michelagnolo and in the nuptials of his Highness, that they have been admitted among the number of our Academicians.
From the same school of Pontormo and Bronzino has issued also Battista Naldini, of whom we have spoken in another place. This Battista, after the death of Pontormo, having been some time in Rome and having applied himself with much study to art, has made much proficience and become a bold and well-practised painter, as many works demonstrate that he has executed for the very reverend Don Vincenzio Borghini, who has made great use of him and assisted him, together with Francesco da Poppi, a young man of great promise and one of our Academicians, who has acquitted himself well in the nuptials of his Highness, and other young men, whom Don Vincenzio is continually employing and assisting. Of this Battista, Vasari has made use for more than two years, as he still does, in the works of the Ducal Palace of Florence, where, by the emulation of many others who were working in the same place, he has made much progress, insomuch that at the present day he is equal to any other young man of our Academy; and that which much pleases those who are good judges is that he is expeditious, and does his work without effort. Battista has painted in an altar-picture in oils that is in a chapel of the Black Friars' Abbey of Florence, a Christ [Pg 15] who is bearing the Cross, in which work are many good figures; and he has other works constantly in hand, which will make him known as an able man.
Not inferior to any of these named above in talent, art, and merit, is Maso Manzuoli, called Maso da San Friano, a young man of about thirty or thirty-two years, who had his first principles from Pier Francesco di Jacopo di Sandro, one of our Academicians, of whom we have spoken in another place. This Maso, I say, besides having shown how much he knows and how much may be expected of him in many pictures and smaller paintings, has demonstrated this recently in two altar-pictures with much honour to himself and full satisfaction to everyone, having displayed in them invention, design, manner, grace, and unity in the colouring. In one of these altar-pieces, which is in the Church of S. Apostolo at Florence, is the Nativity of Jesus Christ, and in the other, which is placed in the Church of S. Pietro Maggiore, and is as beautiful as an old and well-practised master could have made it, is the Visitation of Our Lady to S. Elizabeth, executed with judgment and with many fine considerations, insomuch that the heads, the draperies, the attitudes, the buildings, and all the other parts are full of loveliness and grace. This man acquitted himself with no ordinary excellence in the obsequies of Buonarroti, as an Academician and very loving, and then in some scenes for the nuptials of Queen Joanna.
Now, since not only in the Life of Ridolfo Ghirlandajo I have spoken of his disciple Michele and of Carlo da Loro, but also in other places, I shall say nothing more of them here, although they are of our Academy, enough having been said of them. But I will not omit to tell that other disciples and pupils of Ghirlandajo have been Andrea del Minga, likewise one of our Academicians, who has executed many works, as he still does; Girolamo di Francesco Crocifissaio, a young man of twenty-six, and Mirabello di Salincorno, both painters, who have done and continue to do such works of painting in oils and in fresco, and also portraits, that a most honourable result may be expected from them. These two executed together, now several years ago, some pictures in fresco in the Church of the Capuchins without Florence, which are passing good; and [Pg 16] in the obsequies of Michelagnolo and the above-mentioned nuptials, also they did themselves much honour. Mirabello has painted many portraits, and in particular that of the most illustrious Prince more than once, and many others that are in the hands of various gentlemen of Florence.
Another, also, who has done much honour to our Academy and to himself, is Federigo di Lamberto of Amsterdam, a Fleming, the son-in-law of the Paduan Cartaro, working in the said obsequies and in the festive preparations for the nuptials of the Prince, and besides this he has shown in many pictures painted in oils, both large and small, and in other works that he has executed, a good manner and good design and judgment. And if he has merited praise up to the present, he will merit even more in the future, for he is labouring constantly with much advantage in Florence, which he appears to have chosen as his country, that city being one where young men derive much benefit from competition and emulation.
A beautiful genius, also, universal and abundant in fine fantasies, has been shown by Bernardo Timante Buontalenti, who had his first principles of painting in his youth from Vasari, and then, continuing, has made so much proficiency that he has now served for many years, and still serves with much favour, the most illustrious Lord Don Francesco de' Medici, Prince of Florence. That lord has kept him continually at work; and he has executed for his Excellency many works in miniature after the manner of Don Giulio Clovio, such as many portraits and scenes with little figures, painted with much diligence. The same Bernardo has made with a beautiful architectural design, by order of the said Prince, a cabinet with compartments of ebony and columns of heliotrope, oriental jasper, and lapis-lazuli, which have bases and capitals of chased silver; and besides this he has filled the whole surface of the work with jewels and most lovely ornaments of silver and beautiful little figures, within which ornaments are to be miniatures, and, between terminals placed in pairs, figures of silver and gold in the round, separated by other compartments of agate, jasper, heliotrope, sardonyx, cornelian, and others of the finest stones, to describe all which here would make a very long story. It is enough that in this work, which is near completion, Bernardo [Pg 17] has displayed a most beautiful genius, equal to any work. Thus that lord makes use of him for many ingenious fantasies of his own of cords for drawing weights, of windlasses, and of lines; besides that he has discovered a method of fusing rock-crystal with ease and of purifying it, and has made with it scenes and vases of several colours; for Bernardo occupies himself with everything. This, also, will be seen in a short time in the making of vases of porcelain with all the perfection of the most ancient and most perfect; in which at the present day a most excellent master is Giulio da Urbino, who is in the service of the most illustrious Duke Alfonso II of Ferrara, and does stupendous things in the way of vases with several kinds of clay, and to those in porcelain he gives the most beautiful shapes, besides fashioning with the same earth little squares, octagons, and rounds, hard and with an extraordinary polish, for making pavements counterfeiting the appearance of variegated marbles; of all which things our Prince has the methods of making them. His Excellency has also caused a beginning to be made with the executing of a study-table with precious stones, richly adorned, as an accompaniment to another belonging to his father, Duke Cosimo. And not long ago he had one finished after the design of Vasari, which is a rare work, being of oriental alabaster all inlaid with great pieces of jasper, heliotrope, cornelian, lapis-lazuli, and agate, with other stones and jewels of price that are worth twenty thousand crowns. This study-table has been executed by Bernardino di Porfirio of Leccio in the neighbourhood of Florence, who is excellent in such work, and who made for Messer Bindo Altoviti an octagon of ebony and ivory inlaid likewise with jaspers, after the design of the same Vasari; which Bernardino is now in the service of their Excellencies. But to return to Bernardo: in painting, also, beyond the expectation of many, he showed that he is able to execute large figures no less well than the small, when he painted for the obsequies of Michelagnolo that great canvas of which we have spoken. Bernardo was employed, also, with much credit to him, for the nuptials of his and our Prince, in certain masquerades, in the Triumph of Dreams, as will be told, and in the interludes of the comedy that was performed in the Palace, as has been described exhaustively by others. And if this man, when he [Pg 18] was a youth (although even now he is not past thirty), had given his attention to the studies of art as he gave it to the methods of fortification, in which he spent no little time, he would be perchance now at such a height of excellence as would astonish everyone; none the less, it is believed that he is bound for all that to achieve the same end, although something later, for the reason that he is all genius and art, to which is added this also, that he is continually employed and exercised by his sovereign, and in the most honourable works.
Of our Academy, also, is Giovanni della Strada, a Fleming, who has good design, the finest fantasy, much invention, and a good manner of colouring; and, having made much proficience during the ten years that he has worked in the Palace in distemper, fresco, and oils, after the designs and directions of Giorgio Vasari, he can bear comparison with any of the many painters that the said Lord Duke has in his service. But at the present day the principal task of this man is to make cartoons for various arras-tapestries that the Duke and the Prince are having executed, likewise under the direction of Vasari, of divers kinds in accordance with the stories in painting that are on high in the rooms and chambers painted by Vasari in the Palace, for the adornment of which they are being made, to the end that the embellishment of tapestries below may correspond to the pictures above. For the chambers of Saturn, Ops, Ceres, Jove, and Hercules, he has made most lovely cartoons for about thirty pieces of tapestry; and for the upper chambers where the Princess has her habitation, which are four, dedicated to the virtues of woman, with stories of Roman, Hebrew, Greek, and Tuscan women (namely, the Sabines, Esther, Penelope, and Gualdrada), he has made, likewise, very beautiful cartoons for tapestries. In like manner, he has done the same for ten pieces of tapestry in a hall, in which is the Life of Man; and also for the five lower rooms where the Prince dwells, dedicated to David, Solomon, Cyrus, and others. And for twenty rooms in the Palace of Poggio a Caiano, for which the tapestries are even now being woven, he has made after the inventions of the Duke cartoons of the hunting of every kind of animal, and the methods of fowling and fishing, with the strangest and most beautiful inventions in the world; in which variety [Pg 19] of animals, birds, fishes, landscapes, and vestments, with huntsmen on foot and on horseback, fowlers in various habits, and nude fishermen, he has shown and still shows that he is a truly able man, and that he has learned well the Italian manner, being minded to live and die in Florence in the service of his most illustrious lords, in company with Vasari and the other Academicians.
Another pupil of Vasari, likewise, and also an Academician, is Jacopo di Maestro Piero Zucca, a young Florentine of twenty-five or twenty-six years, who, having assisted Vasari to execute the greater part of the works in the Palace, and in particular the ceiling of the Great Hall, has made so much proficience in design and in the handling of colours, labouring with much industry, study, and assiduity, that he can now be numbered among the first of the young painters in our Academy. And the works that he has done by himself alone in the obsequies of Michelagnolo, in the nuptials of the most illustrious Lord Prince, and at other times for various friends, in which he has shown intelligence, boldness, diligence, grace, and good judgment, have made him known as a gifted youth and an able painter; but even more will those make him known that may be expected from him in the future, doing as much honour to his country as has been done to her by any painter at any time.
In like manner, among other young painters of the Academy, Santi Titi may be called ingenious and able, who, as has been told in other places, after having practised for many years in Rome, has returned finally to enjoy Florence, which he regards as his country, although his elders are of Borgo a San Sepolcro and of a passing good family in that city. This Santi acquitted himself truly excellently in the works that he executed for the obsequies of Buonarroti and the above-mentioned nuptials of the most illustrious Princess, but even more, after great and almost incredible labours, in the scenes that he painted in the theatre which he made for the same nuptials on the Piazza di S. Lorenzo, for the most illustrious Lord Paolo Giordano Orsino, Duke of Bracciano; wherein he painted in chiaroscuro, on several immense pieces of canvas, stories of the actions of various illustrious men of the Orsini family. But how able he is can be perceived best from two altar-pieces by his hand that are to [Pg 20] be seen, one of which is in Ognissanti, or rather, S. Salvadore di Fiorenza (as it is now called), once the church of the Padri Umiliati, and now of the Zoccolanti, and contains the Madonna on high and at the foot S. John, S. Jerome, and other Saints; and in the other, which is in S. Giuseppe, behind S. Croce, in the Chapel of the Guardi, is a Nativity of Our Lord executed with much diligence, with many portraits from life. Not to speak of many pictures of Our Lady and various portraits that he has painted in Rome and in Florence, and pictures executed in the Vatican, as has been related above.
There are also certain other young painters of the same Academy who have been employed in the above-mentioned decorations, some of Florence and some of the Florentine States. Alessandro del Barbiere, a young Florentine of twenty-five, besides many other works, painted for the said nuptials in the Palace, after the designs and directions of Vasari, the canvases of the walls in the Great Hall, wherein were depicted the squares of all the cities in the dominion of the Lord Duke; in which he certainly acquitted himself very well, and proved himself a young man of judgment and likely to achieve any success. In like manner, Vasari has been assisted in these and other works by many other disciples and friends; Domenico Benci, Alessandro Fortori of Arezzo, his cousin Stefano Veltroni, and Orazio Porta, both of Monte Sansovino, and Tommaso del Verrocchio.
In the same Academy there are also many excellent craftsmen who are strangers, of whom we have spoken at length in various places above; and therefore it shall suffice here to make known their names, to the end that they may be numbered in this part among the other Academicians. These, then, are Federigo Zucchero; Prospero Fontana and Lorenzo Sabatini, of Bologna; Marco da Faenza, Tiziano Vecelli, Paolo Veronese, Giuseppe Salviati, Tintoretto, Alessandro Vittoria, the sculptor Danese, the painter Battista Farinato of Verona, and the architect Andrea Palladio.
Now, to say something also of the sculptors in our Academy and of their works, although I do not intend to speak of them at any length, because they are alive and for the most part most illustrious in name and [Pg 21] fame, I say that Benvenuto Cellini, a citizen of Florence, who is now a sculptor (to begin with the oldest and most honoured), had no peer in his youth when he was a goldsmith, nor perhaps had he for many years any equal in that profession and in making most beautiful figures in the round and in low-relief, and all the other works of that craft. He set jewels, and adorned them with marvellous collets and with little figures so well wrought, and at times so bizarre and fantastic that it is not possible to imagine anything finer or better. And the medals that he made in his youth, of silver and gold, were executed with incredible diligence, nor can they ever be praised enough. He made in Rome for Pope Clement VII a very beautiful morse for a pluvial, setting in it excellently well a pointed diamond surrounded by some children made of gold plate, and a God the Father marvellously wrought; wherefore, besides his payment, he received as a gift from that Pope an office of mace-bearer. Being then commissioned by the same Pontiff to make a chalice of gold, the cup of which was to be supported by figures representing the Theological Virtues, he carried it near completion with most marvellous artistry. In these same times there was no one who made the medals of that Pope better than he did, among the many who essayed it, as those well know who saw his medals and possess them; and since for these reasons he received the charge of making the dies for the Mint of Rome, no more beautiful coins have ever been seen than were struck in Rome at that time. Wherefore Benvenuto, after the death of Clement, having returned to Florence, likewise made dies with the head of Duke Alessandro for the coins of the Mint of Florence, so beautiful and wrought with such diligence, that some of them are now preserved as if they were most beautiful antique medals, and that rightly, for the reason that in these he surpassed himself. Having finally given himself to sculpture and to the work of casting, Benvenuto executed in France many works in bronze, silver, and gold, while he was in the service of King Francis in that kingdom. Then, having returned to his own country and entered the service of Duke Cosimo, he was first employed in some goldsmiths' work, and in the end was given some works of sculpture; whereupon he executed in metal the statue of the Perseus that has cut off the head of [Pg 22] Medusa, which is in the Piazza del Duca, near the door of the Ducal Palace, upon a base of marble with some very beautiful figures in bronze, each about one braccio and a third in height. This whole work was carried to perfection with the greatest possible study and diligence, and set up in the above-named place as a worthy companion to the Judith by the hand of Donato, that famous and celebrated sculptor. And certainly it was a marvel that Benvenuto, after being occupied for so many years in making little figures, executed so great a statue with such excellence. The same master has made a Crucifix of marble, in the round and large as life, which of its kind is the rarest and most beautiful piece of sculpture that there is to be seen. Wherefore the Lord Duke keeps it, as a thing most dear to him, in the Pitti Palace, intending to place it in the chapel, or rather, little church, that he is building in that place; which little church could not have in these times anything more worthy of itself and of so great a Prince. In short, it is not possible to praise this work so much as would be sufficient. Now, although I could enlarge at much greater length on the works of Benvenuto, who has been in his every action spirited, proud, vigorous, most resolute, and truly terrible, and a person who has been only too well able to speak for himself with Princes, no less than to employ his hand and brain in matters of art, I shall say nothing more of him here, seeing that he has written of his own life and works, and a treatise on the goldsmith's arts, and on founding and casting in metal, with other things pertaining to such arts, and also of sculpture, with much more eloquence and order than I perchance would be able to use here; as for him, therefore, I must be content with this short summary of the rarest of his principal works.
(After the bronze by Benvenuto Cellini. Florence: Loggia de' Lanzi)
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Francesco di Giuliano da San Gallo, sculptor, architect, and Academician, and now a man seventy years of age, has executed many works of sculpture, as has been related in the Life of his father and elsewhere; the three figures of marble, somewhat larger than life, which are over the altar of the Church of Orsanmichele, S. Anne, the Virgin, and the Child Christ, figures which are much extolled; certain other statues, also in marble, for the tomb of Piero de' Medici at Monte Cassino; the tomb of Bishop de' Marzi, which is in the Nunziata, and that of Monsignor Giovio, [Pg 23] the writer of the history of his own times. In architecture, likewise, the same Francesco has executed many good and beautiful works in Florence and elsewhere; and he has well deserved, both for his own good qualities and for the services of his father Giuliano, to be always favoured by the house of Medici as their protégé, on which account Duke Cosimo, after the death of Baccio d'Agnolo, gave him the place which that master had held as architect to the Duomo of Florence.
Of Ammanati, who is also among the first of our Academicians, enough having been said of him in the description of the works of Jacopo Sansovino, there is no need to speak further here. But I will record that disciples of his, and also Academicians, are Andrea Calamech of Carrara, a well-practised sculptor, who executed many figures under Ammanati, and was invited to Messina after the death of the above-named Martino to take the position which Fra Giovanni Agnolo had once held, in which place he died; and Battista di Benedetto, a young man who has given promise of becoming, as he will, an excellent master, having demonstrated already by many works that he is not inferior to the above-named Andrea or to any other of the young sculptors of our Academy, in beauty of genius and judgment.
Vincenzio de' Rossi of Fiesole, likewise a sculptor, architect, and Academician of Florence, is worthy to have some record made of him in this place, in addition to what has been said of him in the Life of Baccio Bandinelli, whose disciple he was. After he had taken leave of Baccio, then, he gave a great proof of his powers in Rome, although he was young enough, in the statue that he made for the Ritonda, of a S. Joseph with Christ as a boy of ten years, both figures wrought with good mastery and a beautiful manner. He then executed two tombs in the Church of S. Maria della Pace, with the effigies of those who are within them on the sarcophagi, and on the front without some Prophets of marble in half-relief and large as life, which acquired for him the name of an excellent sculptor. Whereupon there was allotted to him by the Roman people the statue of Pope Paul IV, which was placed on the Campidoglio; and he executed it excellently well. But that work had a short life, for the reason that after the death of the Pope it was thrown [Pg 24] to the ground and destroyed by the populace, which persecutes fiercely one day the very men whom it has exalted to the heavens the day before. After that figure Vincenzio made from one block of marble two statues a little larger than life, a Theseus, King of Athens, who has carried off Helen and holds her in his arms in the act of knowing her, with a Troy beneath his feet; than which figures it is not possible to make any with more diligence, study, labour, and grace. Wherefore when Duke Cosimo de' Medici, having journeyed to Rome, and going to see the modern works worthy to be seen no less than the antiques, saw those statues, Vincenzio himself showing them to him, he extolled them very highly, as they deserved; and then Vincenzio, who is a gentle spirit, courteously presented them to him, and at the same time freely offered him his services. But his Excellency, having conveyed them not long afterwards to his Palace of the Pitti in Florence, paid him a good price for them; and, having taken Vincenzio himself with him, he commissioned him after no long time to execute the Labours of Hercules in figures of marble larger than life and in the round. On these Vincenzio is now spending his time, and already he has carried to completion the Slaying of Cacus and the Combat with the Centaur; which whole work, even as it is most exalted in subject and also laborious, so it is hoped that it will prove excellent in artistry, Vincenzio being a man of very beautiful genius and much judgment, and prodigal of thought in all his works of importance.
Nor must I omit to say that under his discipline Ilarione Ruspoli, a young citizen of Florence, gives his attention with much credit to sculpture; which Ilarione, no less than his peers in our Academy, showed that he had knowledge, design, and a good mastery in the making of statues, when he had occasion together with the others in the obsequies of Michelagnolo and in the festive preparations for the nuptials named above.
FOUNTAIN OF NEPTUNE
(After Giovanni Bologna. Bologna)
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Francesco Camilliani, a sculptor and Academician of Florence, who was a disciple of Baccio Bandinelli, after having given in many works proof of being a good sculptor, has consumed fifteen years in making ornaments for fountains; and of such there is one most stupendous, which the Lord Don Luigi di Toledo has caused to be executed for his garden in [Pg 25] Florence. The ornaments about that garden are various statues of men and animals in divers manners, all rich and truly regal, and wrought without sparing of expense; and among other statues that Francesco has made for that place, two larger than life, which represent the Rivers Arno and Mugnone, are of supreme beauty, and particularly the Mugnone, which can bear comparison with no matter what statue by an excellent master. In short, all the architecture and ornamentation of that garden are the work of Francesco, who by the richness of the various fountains has made it such, that it has no equal in Florence, and perhaps not in Italy. And the principal fountain, which is even now being carried to completion, will be the richest and most sumptuous to be seen in any place, with its wealth of the richest and finest ornaments that can be imagined, and the great abundance of waters that will be there, flowing without fail at every season.
Also an Academician, and much in favour with our Princes for his talents, is Giovan Bologna of Douai, a Flemish sculptor and a young man truly of the rarest, who has executed with most beautiful ornaments of metal the fountain that has been made recently on the Piazza di S. Petronio in Bologna, opposite to the Palazzo de' Signori, in which there are, besides other ornaments, four very beautiful Sirens at the corners, with various children all around, and masks bizarre and extraordinary. But the most notable thing is a figure that he has made and placed over the centre of that fountain, a Neptune of six braccia, which is a most beautiful casting and a statue studied and wrought to perfection. The same master—not to speak at present of all the works that he has executed in clay, terracotta, wax, and other mixtures—has made a very beautiful Venus in marble, and has carried almost to completion for the Lord Prince a Samson large as life, who is combating on foot with two Philistines. And in bronze he has made a statue of Bacchus, larger than life and in the round, and a Mercury in the act of flying, a very ingenious figure, the whole weight resting on one leg and on the point of the foot, which has been sent to the Emperor Maximilian, as a thing that is indeed most rare. But if up to the present he has executed many works, he will do many more in the future, and most beautiful, for recently the Lord [Pg 26] Prince has had him provided with rooms in the Palace, and has commissioned him to make a statue of a Victory of five braccia, with a captive, which is going into the Great Hall, opposite another by the hand of Michelagnolo; and he will execute for that Prince large and important works, in which he will have an ample field to show his worth. Many works by his hand, and very beautiful models of various things, are in the possession of M. Bernardo Vecchietti, a gentleman of Florence, and Maestro Bernardo di Mona Mattea, builder to the Duke, who has constructed with great excellence all the fabrics designed by Vasari.
(After the bronze by Giovanni Bologna. Florence: Museo Nazionale)
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Not less than this Giovan Bologna and his friends and other sculptors of our Academy, Vincenzio Danti of Perugia, who under the protection of Duke Cosimo has adopted Florence as his country, is a young man truly rare and of fine genius. Vincenzio, when a youth, worked as a goldsmith, and executed in that profession things beyond belief; and afterwards, having applied himself to the work of casting, he had the courage at the age of twenty to cast in bronze a statue of Pope Julius III, four braccia high, seated and giving the Benediction; which statue, a very creditable work, is now in the Piazza of Perugia. Then, having come to Florence to serve Duke Cosimo, he made a very beautiful model in wax, larger than life, of a Hercules crushing Antæus, in order to cast from it a figure in bronze, which was to be placed over the principal fountain in the garden of Castello, a villa of the said Lord Duke. But, having made the mould upon that model, in seeking to cast it in bronze it did not succeed, although he returned twice to the work; either by bad fortune, or because the metal was burnt, or for some other reason. Having then turned, in order not to subject his labours to the whim of chance, to working in marble, he executed in a short time from one single piece of marble two figures, Honour with Deceit beneath it, and with such diligence, that it seemed as if he had never done anything but handle the hammer and chisels; and on the head of Honour, which is beautiful, he made the hair curling and so well pierced through, that it seems real and natural, besides displaying a very good knowledge of the nude. That statue is now in the courtyard of the house of Signor Sforza Almeni in the Via de' Servi. And at Fiesole, for the same Signor Sforza, he made many ornaments in his [Pg 27] garden and around certain fountains. Afterwards he executed for the Lord Duke some low-reliefs in marble and in bronze, which were held to be very beautiful, for in that manner of sculpture he is perhaps not inferior to any other master. He then cast, also in bronze, the grating of the chapel built in the new apartments of the Palace, which were painted by Giorgio Vasari, and with it a panel with many figures in low-relief, which serves to close a press wherein the Duke keeps writings of importance; and another panel one braccio and a half in height and two and a half in breadth, representing how Moses, in order to heal the Hebrew people from the bites of the serpents, placed one upon a pole. All these things are in the possession of that lord, by order of whom he made the door of the sacristy in the Pieve of Prato, and over it a sarcophagus of marble, with a Madonna three braccia and a half high, and beside her the Child nude, and two little children that are one on either side of a head in low-relief of Messer Carlo de' Medici, the natural son of the elder Cosimo, and once Provost of Prato, whose bones, after having long been in a tomb of brick, Duke Cosimo has caused to be laid in the above-named sarcophagus, thus giving him honourable sepulture; although it is true that the said Madonna and the head in low-relief (which is very beautiful), being in a bad light, do not show up by a great measure as they should. The same Vincenzio has since made, in order to adorn the residence of the Magistrates of the Mint, on the head-wall over the loggia that is on the River Arno, an escutcheon of the Duke with two nude figures, larger than life, on either side of it, one representing Equity and the other Rigour; and from hour to hour he is expecting the marble to make the statue of the Lord Duke himself, considerably larger than life, of which he has made a model; and that statue is to be placed seated over the escutcheon, as a completion to the work, which is to be built shortly, together with the rest of the façade, which Vasari, who is the architect of that fabric, is even now superintending. He has also in hand, and has carried very near completion, a Madonna of marble larger than life, standing with Jesus, a Child of three months, in her arms; which will be a very beautiful work. All these works, together with others, he is executing in the Monastery of the Angeli in Florence, where [Pg 28] he lives quietly in company with these monks, who are much his friends, in the rooms that were once occupied there by Messer Benedetto Varchi, of whom the same Vincenzio is making a portrait in low-relief, which will be very beautiful.
THE BRAZEN SERPENT
(After the bronze relief by Vincenzo Danti. Florence: Museo Nazionale)
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Vincenzio has a brother in the Order of Preaching Friars, called Fra Ignazio Danti, who is very excellent in matters of cosmography, and of a rare genius, insomuch that Duke Cosimo de' Medici is causing him to execute a work than which none greater or more perfect has ever been done at any time in that profession; which is as follows. His Excellency, under the direction of Vasari, has built a new hall of some size expressly as an addition to the guardaroba, on the second floor of the apartments in the Ducal Palace; and this he has furnished all around with presses seven braccia high, with rich carvings of walnut-wood, in order to deposit in them the most important, precious, and beautiful things that he possesses. Over the doors of those presses, within their ornaments, Fra Ignazio has distributed fifty-seven pictures about two braccia high and wide in proportion, in which are painted in oils on the wood with the greatest diligence, after the manner of miniatures, the Tables of Ptolemy, all measured with perfect accuracy and corrected after the most recent authorities, with exact charts of navigation and their scales for measuring and degrees, done with supreme diligence; and with these are all the names, both ancient and modern. His distribution of these pictures is on this wise. At the principal entrance of the hall, on the transverse surfaces of the thickness of the presses, in four pictures, are four half-spheres in perspective; in the two below is the Universe of the Earth, and in the two above is the Universe of the Heavens, with its signs and celestial figures. Then as one enters, on the right hand, there is all Europe in fourteen tables and pictures, one after another, as far as the centre of the wall that is at the head, opposite to the principal door; in which centre is placed the clock with the wheels and with the spheres of the planets that every day go through their motions, which is that clock, so famous and renowned, made by the Florentine Lorenzo della Volpaia. Above these tables is Africa in eleven tables, as far as the said clock; and then, beyond that clock, Asia in the lower range, which continues likewise [Pg 29] in fourteen tables as far as the principal door. Above these tables of Asia, in fourteen other tables, there follow the West Indies, beginning like the others from the clock, and continuing as far as the same principal door; and thus there are in all fifty-seven tables. In the base at the foot, in an equal number of pictures running right round, which will be exactly in line with those tables, are to be all the plants and all the animals copied from nature, according to the kinds that those countries produce. Over the cornice of the presses, which is the crown of the whole, there are to be some projections separating the pictures, and upon these are to be placed such of the antique heads in marble as are in existence of the Emperors and Princes who have possessed those lands; and on the plain walls up to the cornice of the ceiling, which is all of carved wood and painted in twelve great pictures, each with four celestial signs, making in all forty-eight, and little less than lifesize, with their stars—there are beneath, as I have said, on those walls, three hundred portraits from life of distinguished persons for the last five hundred years or more, painted in pictures in oils (and a note will be made of them in the table of portraits, in order not to make too long a story here with their names), all of one size, and with one and the same ornament of carved walnut-wood—a very rare effect. In the two compartments in the centre of the ceiling, each four braccia wide, where there are the celestial signs, which open with ease without revealing the secret of the hiding-place, in a part after the manner of a heaven, will be accommodated two large globes, each three braccia and a half in height. In one of them will be the whole earth, marked distinctly, and this will be let down by a windlass that will not be seen, down to the floor, and will rest on a balanced pedestal, so that, when fixed, there will be seen reflected all the tables that are right round in the pictures of the presses, and they will have a countermark in the globe wherewith to find them with ease. In the other globe will be the forty-eight celestial signs arranged in such a manner, that it will be possible with it to perform all the operations of the Astrolabe to perfection. This fanciful invention came from Duke Cosimo, who wished to put together once and for all these things both of heaven and of earth, absolutely exact and without errors, so that it might be possible to see [Pg 30] and measure them separately and all together, according to the pleasure of those who delight in this most beautiful profession and study it; of which, as a thing worthy to be recorded, it has seemed to me my duty to make mention in this place on account of the art of Fra Ignazio and the greatness of the Prince, who holds us worthy to enjoy such honourable labours, and also to the end that it may be known throughout the whole world.
And now to return to the men of our Academy; although I have spoken in the Life of Tribolo of Antonio di Gino Lorenzi, a sculptor of Settignano, I must record here with better order, as in the proper place, that he executed under his master Tribolo the statue of Æsculapius described above, which is at Castello, and four children that are in the great fountain of that place; and since then he has made some heads and ornaments that are about the new fish-pond of Castello, which is high up there in the midst of various kinds of trees of perpetual verdure. Recently he has made in the lovely garden of the stables, near S. Marco, most beautiful ornaments for an isolated fountain, with many very fine aquatic animals of white and variegated marble; and in Pisa he once executed under the direction of the above-named Tribolo the tomb of Corte, a most excellent philosopher and physician, with his statue and two very beautiful children of marble. In addition to these, he is even now executing new works for the Duke, of animals and birds in variegated marble for fountains, works of the greatest difficulty, which make him well worthy to be in the number of these our Academicians.
(After Vincenzo Danti. Florence: Museo Nazionale)
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In like manner, a brother of Antonio, called Stoldo di Gino Lorenzi, a young man thirty years of age, has acquitted himself in such a manner up to the present in many works of sculpture, that he may now be numbered with justice among the first of the young men in his profession, and set in the most honourable place in their midst. At Pisa he has executed in marble a Madonna receiving the Annunciation from the Angel, which has made him known as a young man of beautiful judgment and genius; and Luca Martini caused him to make another very lovely statue in Pisa, which was presented afterwards by the Lady Duchess Leonora to the Lord Don Garzia di Toledo, her brother, who has placed it in his garden [Pg 31] on the Chiaia at Naples. The same Stoldo has made, under the direction of Vasari, in the centre of the façade of the Palace of the Knights of S. Stephen at Pisa, over the principal door, a very large escutcheon in marble of the Lord Duke, their Grand Master, between two statues in the round, Religion and Justice, which are truly most beautiful and highly extolled by all those who are good judges. The same lord has since caused him to execute a fountain for his garden of the Pitti, after the likeness of the beautiful Triumph of Neptune that was seen in the superb masquerade which his Excellency held for the above-mentioned nuptials of the most illustrious Lord Prince. And let this suffice for Stoldo Lorenzi, who is young and is constantly working and acquiring more and more fame and honour among his companions of the Academy.
Of the same family of the Lorenzi of Settignano is Battista, called Battista del Cavaliere from his having been a disciple of the Chevalier Baccio Bandinelli; who has executed in marble three statues of the size of life, which Bastiano del Pace, a citizen of Florence, has caused him to make for the Guadagni, who live in France, and who have placed them in a garden that belongs to them. These are a nude Spring, a Summer, and a Winter, which are to be accompanied by an Autumn; which statues have been held by many who have seen them, to be beautiful and executed with no ordinary excellence. Wherefore Battista has well deserved to be chosen by the Lord Duke to make the sarcophagus, with the ornaments, and one of the three statues that are to be on the tomb of Michelagnolo Buonarroti, which his Excellency and Leonardo Buonarroti are carrying out after the design of Giorgio Vasari; which work, as may be seen, Battista is carrying to completion excellently well, with certain little boys, and the figure of Buonarroti himself from the breast upwards.
The second of these three figures that are to be on that sepulchre, which are to be Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, has been allotted to Giovanni di Benedetto of Castello, a disciple of Baccio Bandinelli and an Academician, who is executing for the Wardens of S. Maria del Fiore the works in low-relief that are going round the choir, which is now near completion. In these he is closely imitating his master, and acquitting [Pg 32] himself in such a manner that an excellent result is expected of him; nor will it fall out otherwise, seeing that he is very assiduous in his work and in the studies of his profession.
The third figure has been allotted to Valerio Cioli of Settignano, a sculptor and Academician, for the reason that the other works that he has executed up to the present have been such, that it is thought that the said figure must prove to be so good as to be not otherwise than worthy to be placed on the tomb of so great a man. Valerio, who is a young man twenty-six years of age, has restored many antique statues of marble in the garden of the Cardinal of Ferrara at Monte Cavallo in Rome, making for some of them new arms, for some new feet, and for others other parts that were wanting; and he has since done the same for many statues in the Pitti Palace, which the Duke has conveyed there for the adornment of a great hall. The Duke has also caused the same Valerio to make a nude statue of the dwarf Morgante in marble, which has proved so beautiful and so like the reality, that probably there has never been seen another monster so well wrought, nor one executed with such diligence, lifelike and faithful to nature. In like manner, he has caused him to execute the statue of Pietro, called Barbino, a gifted dwarf, well-lettered and a very gentle spirit, and a favourite of our Duke. For all these reasons, I say, Valerio has well deserved that there should be allotted to him by his Excellency the statue that is to adorn the tomb of Buonarroti, the one master of all these able men of the Academy.
As for Francesco Moschino, a sculptor of Florence, enough having been spoken of him in another place, it suffices here to say that he also is an Academician, that under the protection of Duke Cosimo he is constantly at work in the Duomo of Pisa, and that among the festive preparations for the nuptials he acquitted himself excellently well in the decorations of the principal door of the Ducal Palace.
Of Domenico Poggini, likewise, having said above that he is an able sculptor and that he has executed an infinity of medals very faithful to the reality, and some works in marble and in casting, I shall say nothing more of him here, save that he is deservedly one of our Academicians, that for the above-named nuptials he made some very beautiful statues, [Pg 33] which were placed upon the Arch of Religion at the Canto della Paglia, and that recently he has executed a new medal of the Duke, very true to the life and most beautiful; and he is still continually at work.
Giovanni Fancelli, or rather, as others call him, Giovanni di Stocco, an Academician, has executed many works in marble and stone, which have proved good sculptures; among others, much extolled is an escutcheon of balls with two children and other ornaments, placed on high over the two knee-shaped windows of the façade of Ser Giovanni Conti in Florence. And the same I say of Zanobi Lastricati, who, as a good and able sculptor, has executed and is still executing many works in marble and in casting, which have made him well worthy to be in the Academy in company with those named above; and, among his works, much praised is a Mercury of bronze that is in the court of the Palace of M. Lorenzo Ridolfi, for it is a figure wrought with all the considerations that are requisite.
Finally, there have been accepted into the Academy some young sculptors who executed honourable and praiseworthy works in the above-named preparations for the nuptials of his Highness; and these were Fra Giovanni Vincenzio of the Servites, a disciple of Fra Giovanni Agnolo; Ottaviano del Collettaio, a pupil of Zanobi Lastricati, and Pompilio Lancia, the son of Baldassarre da Urbino, architect and pupil of Girolamo Genga; which Pompilio, in the masquerade called the Genealogy of the Gods, arranged for the most part, and particularly the mechanical contrivances, by the said Baldassarre, his father, acquitted himself in certain things excellently well.
In these last pages we have shown at some length what kind of men, and how many and how able, have been gathered together to form so noble an Academy, and we have touched in part on the many and honourable occasions obtained by them from their most liberal lords, wherein to display their capacity and ability. Nevertheless, to the end that this may be the better understood, although those first learned writers, in their descriptions of the arches and of the various spectacles represented in those splendid nuptials, made it very well known, yet, since there has been given into my hands the following little work, written by way of exercise by a person of leisure who delights not a little in our profession, [Pg 34] to a dear and close friend who was not able to see those festivities, forming the most brief account and comprising everything in one, it has seemed to me my duty, for the satisfaction of my brother-craftsmen, to insert it in this volume, adding to it a few words, to the end that it may be more easy, by thus uniting rather than separating it, to preserve an honourable record of their noble labours.
We will describe, then, with the greatest clearness and brevity that may be permitted by the abundance of our material, how the intention in all these decorations was to represent by the vast number of pictures and sculptures, as if in life, all those ceremonies, effects, and pomps that appeared to be proper to the reception and the nuptials of so great a Princess, forming of them poetically and ingeniously a whole so well proportioned, that with judgment and grace it might achieve the result designed. First of all, therefore, at the Gate that is called the Porta al Prato, by which her Highness was to enter the city, there was built with dimensions truly heroic, which well showed ancient Rome risen again in her beloved daughter Florence, a vast, most ornate, and very ingeniously composed ante-port of Ionic architecture, which, surpassing by a good measure the height of the walls, which are there very lofty, presented a marvellous and most superb view not only to those entering the city, but even at a distance of several miles. And this arch was dedicated to Florence, who—standing between two figures, as it were her beloved companions, of Fidelity and Affection, virtues which she has always shown towards her Lords—in the form of a young and most beautiful woman, smiling and all adorned with flowers, had been set, as was her due, in the most important and most honourable place, nearest to the Gate, as if she sought to receive, introduce, and accompany her new Lady; having brought with her, as it were as her minister and companion, and as the symbol of those of her sons who in the art of war, among other arts, have [Pg 38] rendered her illustrious, Mars, their leader and master, and in a certain sense the first father of Florence herself, in that under his auspices and by martial men, who were descended from Mars, was made her first foundation. His statue, dread and terrible, could be seen on the right in the part farthest from her, sword in hand, as if he sought to use it in the service of his new Lady; he likewise having as it were brought with him to accompany his Florence, in a very large and very beautiful canvas painted in chiaroscuro that was beneath his feet (very similar to the whitest marble, as were all the other works that were in these decorations), some of the men of that invincible Martian Legion so dear to the first and second Cæsar, her first founders, and some of those born from her, who afterwards followed her discipline so gloriously. Many of these could be seen issuing full of gladness from his temple, which is now dedicated to S. John in the name of the Christian religion; and in the farthest distance were placed those who were thought to have had a name only for bodily valour, in the central space those others who had become famous by their counsel and industry, such as commissaries or proveditors (to call them by their Venetian name), and in the front part nearest to the eye, in the most honourable places, as being the most worthy of honour, were painted the captains of armies and those who had acquired illustrious renown and immortal fame by valour of the body and mind together. Among these, as the first and perhaps the most honourable, could be seen on horseback, like many others, the glorious Signor Giovanni de' Medici portrayed from life, that rare master of Italian military discipline, and the illustrious father of the great Cosimo whom we honour as our excellent and most valorous Duke; and with him Filippo Spano, terror of the barbarous Turks, and M. Farinata degli Uberti, great-hearted saviour of his native Florence. There, also, was M. Buonaguisa della Pressa, who, at the head of the valiant youth of Florence, winning the first and glorious mural crown at Damiata, acquired so great a name; and the Admiral Federigo Folchi, Knight of Rhodes, who with his two sons and eight nephews performed so many deeds of prowess against the Saracens. There were M. Nanni Strozzi, M. Manno Donati, Meo Altoviti, and Bernardo Ubaldini, called Della Carda, father of Federigo, Duke of [Pg 39] Urbino, that most excellent captain of our times. There, likewise, was the Great Constable, M. Niccola Acciaiuoli, he who it may be said preserved for Queen Joanna and King Louis, his Sovereigns, the troubled kingdom of Naples, and who always bore himself both there and in Sicily with such loyalty and valour. There were another Giovanni de' Medici and Giovanni Bisdomini, most illustrious in the wars with the Visconti, and the unfortunate but valorous Francesco Ferrucci; and among those more ancient were M. Forese Adimari, M. Corso Donati, M. Vieri de' Cerchi, M. Bindaccio da Ricasoli, and M. Luca da Panzano. Among the commissaries, not less faithfully portrayed from life, could be seen there Gino Capponi, with Neri his son, and Piero his grand-nephew, he who, tearing so boldly the insolent proposals of Charles VIII, King of France, to his immortal honour, caused the voice of a Capon (Cappon), as the witty poet said so well, to sound so nobly among so many Cocks (Galli). There were Bernardetto de' Medici, Luca di Maso degli Albizzi, Tommaso di M. Guido, now called Del Palagio, Piero Vettori, so celebrated in the wars with the Aragonese, and the so greatly and so rightly renowned Antonio Giacomini, with M. Antonio Ridolfi and many others of this and other orders, who would make too long a story. All these appeared to be filled with joy that they had raised their country to such a height, auguring for her, in the coming of that new Lady, increase, felicity, and greatness; which was expressed excellently well in the four verses that were to be seen written on the architrave above:
Hanc peperere suo patriam qui sanguine nobis
Aspice magnanimos heroas; nunc et ovantes
Et laeti incedant, felicem terque quaterque
Certatimque vocent tali sub Principe Floram.
Not less gladness could be seen in the beautiful statue of one of the nine Muses, which was placed as a complement opposite to that of Mars, nor less, again, in the figures of the men of science in the painted canvas that was to be seen at her feet, of the same size and likewise as the complement of the men of Mars opposite, by which it was sought to signify that even as the men of war, so also the men of learning, of whom Florence had always a great abundance and in no way less renowned (in that, as [Pg 40] all men admit, it was there that learning began to revive), had likewise been brought by Florence under the guidance of their Muse to receive and honour the noble bride. Which Muse, clad in a womanly, graceful, and seemly habit, with a book in the right hand and a flute in the left, seemed with a certain loving expression to wish to invite all beholders to apply their minds to true virtue; and on the canvas beneath her, executed, like all the others, in chiaroscuro, could be seen painted a great and rich Temple of Minerva, whose statue crowned with olive, with the shield of the Gorgon (as is customary), was placed without; and before the temple and at the sides, within an enclosure of balusters made as it were for a promenade, could be seen a great throng of grave and solemn men, who, although all rejoicing and making merry, yet retained in their aspect a certain something of the venerable, and these, also, were portrayed from life. For Theology and Sanctity there was the famous Fra Antonino, Archbishop of Florence, for whom a little Angel was holding the episcopal mitre, and with him was seen Giovanni Domenici, first Friar and then Cardinal; and with them Don Ambrogio, General of Camaldoli, and M. Ruberto de' Bardi, Maestro Luigi Marsili, Maestro Leonardo Dati, and many others. Even so, in another part—and these were the Philosophers—were seen the Platonist M. Marsilio Ficino, M. Francesco Cattani da Diacceto, M. Francesco Verini the elder, and M. Donato Acciaiuoli; and for Law there were, with the great Accursio, Francesco his son, M. Lorenzo Ridolfi, M. Dino Rossoni di Mugello, and M. Forese da Rabatta. The Physicians, also, had their portraits; and among them Maestro Taddeo Dino and Tommaso del Garbo, with Maestro Torrigian Valori and Maestro Niccolò Falcucci, had the first places. Nor did the Mathematicians, likewise, fail to be painted there; and of these, besides the ancient Guido Bonatto, were seen Maestro Paolo del Pozzo and the very acute, ingenious, and noble Leon Batista Alberti, and with them Antonio Manetti and Lorenzo della Volpaia, he by whose hand we have that first and marvellous clock of the planets, the wonder of our age, which is now to be seen in the guardaroba of our most excellent Duke. For Navigation, also, there was Amerigo Vespucci, most experienced and most fortunate of men, in that so great a part of the world, having been discovered [Pg 41] by him, retains because of him the name of America. For Learning, various and elegant, there was Messer Agnolo Poliziano, to whom how much is owed by the Latin and Tuscan tongues, which began to revive in him, I believe is sufficiently well known to all the world. With him were Pietro Crinito, Giannozzo Manetti, Francesco Pucci, Bartolommeo Fonzio, Alessandro de' Pazzi, and Messer Marcello Vergilio Adriani, father of the most ingenious and most learned M. Giovan Battista, now called Il Marcellino, who is still living and giving public lectures with so much honour in our Florentine University, and who at the commission of their illustrious Excellencies has been writing anew the History of Florence; and there were also M. Cristofano Landini, M. Coluccio Salutati, and Ser Brunetto Latini, the master of Dante. Nor were there wanting certain Poets who had written in Latin, such as Claudian, and among the more modern Carlo Marsuppini and Zanobi Strada. Of the Historians, then, were seen M. Francesco Guicciardini, Niccolò Macchiavelli, M. Leonardo Bruni, M. Poggio, Matteo Palmieri, and, among the earliest, Giovanni and Matteo Villani and the very ancient Ricordano Malespini. All these, or the greater part, for the satisfaction of all beholders, had each his name or that of his most famous works marked on the scrolls or on the covers of the books that they held, placed there as if by chance; and with all of them, as with the men of war, to demonstrate what they were come there to do, the four verses that were painted on the architrave, as with the others, made it clearly manifest, saying:
Artibus egregiis Latiæ Graiæque Minervæ
Florentes semper quis non miretur Etruscos?
Sed magis hoc illos ævo florere necesse est
Et Cosmo genitore et Cosmi prole favente.
Next, beside the statue of Mars, and somewhat nearer to that of Florence—and here it must be noted with what singular art and judgment every least thing was distributed, in that, the intention being to accompany Florence with six Deities, so to speak, for the potency of whom she could right well vaunt herself, the two hitherto described, Mars and the Muse, because other cities could perhaps no less than she lay claim to them, as being the least peculiar to her, were placed less near to her than [Pg 42] the others; and so for the spacious vestibule or passage, as it were, formed before the gate by the four statues to follow, the two already described were used as wings or head-pieces, being placed at the entrance, one turned towards the Castle and the other towards the Arno, but the next two, which formed the beginning of the vestibule, for the reason that they are shared by her with few other cities, came to be placed somewhat nearer to her, even as the last two, because they are entirely peculiar to her and shared with no other city, or, to speak more exactly, because no other can compare with her in them (and may this be said without offence to any other Tuscan people, which, when it shall have a Dante, a Petrarca, and a Boccaccio to put forward, may perchance be able to come into dispute with her), were placed in close proximity to her, and nearer than any of the others—now, to go back, I say that beside the statue of Mars had been placed a Ceres, Goddess of Cultivation and of the fields, not less beautiful and good to look upon than the others; which pursuit, how useful it is and how worthy of honour for a well-ordered city, was taught in ancient times by Rome, who had enrolled all her nobility among the rustic tribes, as Cato testifies, besides many others, calling it the nerve of that most puissant Republic, and as Pliny affirms no less strongly when he says that the fields had been tilled by the hands of Imperatores, and that it may be believed that earth rejoiced to be ploughed by the laureate share and by the triumphant ploughman. That Ceres was crowned, as is customary, with ears of various kinds of corn, having in the right hand a sickle and in the left a bunch of similar ears. Now, how much Florence can vaunt herself in this respect, whoever may be in any doubt of it may enlighten himself by regarding her most ornate and highly cultivated neighbourhood, for, leaving on one side the vast number of most superb and commodious palaces that may be seen dispersed over its surface, it is such that Florence, although among the most beautiful cities of which we have any knowledge she might be said to carry off the palm, yet remains by a great measure vanquished and surpassed by it, insomuch that it may rightly claim the title of the garden of Europe; not to speak of its fertility, as to which, although it is for the most part mountainous and not very large, nevertheless the diligence that is used [Pg 43] in it is such, that it not only feeds bountifully its own vast population and the infinite multitude of strangers who flock to it, but very often gives courteous succour to other lands both near and far. In the canvas (to return to our subject) which was to be seen in like fashion beneath her statue, in the same manner and of the same size, the excellent painter had figured a most beautiful little landscape adorned with an infinite variety of trees, in the most distant part of which was seen an ancient and very ornate little temple dedicated to Ceres, in which, since it was open and raised upon colonnades, could be perceived many who were offering religious sacrifices. On the other side, in a part somewhat more solitary, Nymphs of the chase could be seen standing about a shady and most limpid fount, gazing as it were in marvel and offering to the new bride of those pleasures and delights that are found in their pursuits, in which Tuscany is perhaps not inferior to any other part of Italy. In another part, with many countrymen bringing various animals both wild and domestic, were seen also many country-girls, young and beautiful, and adorned in a thousand rustic but graceful manners, and likewise come—weaving the while garlands of flowers and bearing various fruits—to see and honour their Lady. And the verses which were over this scene as with the others, taken from Virgil, to the great glory of Tuscany, ran thus:
Hanc olim veteres vitam coluere Sabini,
Hanc Remus et frater, sic fortis Etruria crevit,
Scilicet et rerum facta est pulcherrima Flora,
Urbs antiqua, potens armis atque ubere glebæ.
Next, opposite to the above-described statue of Ceres, was seen that of Industry; and I do not speak merely of that industry which is seen used by many in many places in matters of commerce, but of a certain particular excellence and ingenious virtue which the men of Florence employ in everything to which they deign to apply themselves, on which account many, and in particular the Poet of supreme judgment (and rightly, as is evident), give them the title of Industrious. How great a benefit this industry has been to Florence, and in what great account it has always been held by her, is seen from this, that upon it she formed her body corporate, decreeing that none could become one of her citizens [Pg 44] who was not entered under the name of some Guild, and thus recognizing that by that industry she had risen to no small power and greatness. Now Industry was figured as a woman in a light and easy habit, holding a sceptre, at the head of which was a hand with an eye in the centre of the palm, and with two little wings, whereby with the sceptre there was achieved a certain sort of resemblance to the Caduceus of Mercury; and in the canvas that was beneath her, as with the other statues, was seen a vast and most ornate portico or forum, very similar to the place where our merchants resort to transact their business, called the Mercato Nuovo, which was made even clearer by the boy that was to be seen striking the hours on one of the walls. And on one side, their particular Gods having been ingeniously placed there (in one part, namely, the statue of Fortune seated on a wheel, and in another part Mercury with the Caduceus and with a purse in the hand), were seen assembled many of the most noble artificers, those, namely, who exercise their arts with perhaps greater excellence in Florence than in any other place; and of such, with their wares in their hands, as if they were seeking to offer them to the incoming Princess, some were to be seen with cloth of gold or of silk, some with the finest draperies, and others with most beautiful and marvellous embroideries, and all with expressions of joy. Even so, in another part, some were seen in various costumes trafficking as they walked, and others of lower degree with various most beautiful wood-carvings and works in tarsia, and some again with balls, masks, and rattles, and other childish things, all in the same manner showing the same gladness and contentment. All which, and the advantage of these things, and the profit and glory that have come from them to Florence, was made manifest by the four verses that were placed above them, as with the others, saying:
Quas artes pariat solertia, nutriat usus,
Aurea monstravit quondam Florentia cunctis.
Pandere namque acri ingenio atque enixa labore est
Præstanti, unde paret vitam sibi quisque beatam.
Of the two last Deities or Virtues, seeing that, as we have said, by reason of the number and excellence in them of her sons they are so [Pg 45] peculiar to Florence that she may well consider herself glorious in them beyond any other city, there was placed on the right hand, next to the statue of Ceres, that of Apollo, representing that Tuscan Apollo who infuses Tuscan verse in Tuscan poets. Under his feet, as in the other canvases, there was painted on the summit of a most lovely mountain, recognized as that of Helicon by the horse Pegasus, a very spacious and beautiful meadow, in the centre of which rose the sacred Fount of Aganippe, likewise recognized by the nine Muses, who stood around it in pleasant converse, and with them, and in the shade of the verdant laurels with which the whole mount was covered, were seen various poets in various guise seated or discoursing as they walked, or singing to the sound of the lyre, while a multitude of little Loves were playing above the laurels, some of them shooting arrows, and some appeared to be throwing down crowns of laurel. Of these poets, in the most honourable place were seen the profound Dante, the gracious Petrarca, and the fecund Boccaccio, who with smiling aspect appeared to be promising to the incoming Lady, since a subject so noble had not fallen to them, to infuse in the intellects of Florence such virtue that they would be able to sing worthily of her; to which with the exemplar of their writings, if only there may be found one able to imitate them, they have opened a broad and easy way. Near them, as if discoursing with them, and all, like the rest, portrayed from life, were seen M. Cino da Pistoia, Montemagno, Guido Cavalcanti, Guittone d'Arezzo, and Dante da Maiano, who lived in the same age and were poets passing gracious for those times. In another part were Monsignor Giovanni della Casa, Luigi Alamanni, and Lodovico Martelli, with Vincenzio at some distance from him, and with them Messer Giovanni Rucellai, the writer of the tragedies, and Girolamo Benivieni; among whom, if he had not been living at that time, a well-merited place would have been given also to the portrait of M. Benedetto Varchi, who shortly afterwards made his way to a better life. In another part, again, were seen Franco Sacchetti, who wrote the three hundred Novelle, and other men, who, although at the present day they have no great renown, yet, because in their times they made no small advance in romances, were judged to be not unworthy of that [Pg 46] place—Luigi Pulci, with his brothers Bernardo and Luca, and also Ceo and Altissimo. Berni, also, the inventor and father (and excellent father) of Tuscan burlesque poetry, with Burchiello, with Antonio Alamanni, and with Unico Accolti (who were standing apart), appeared to be showing no less joy than any of the others; while Arno, leaning in his usual manner on his Lion, with two children that were crowning him with laurel, and Mugnone, known by the Nymph that stood over him crowned with stars, with the moon on her brow, in allusion to the daughters of Atlas, and representing Fiesole, appeared likewise to be expressing the same gladness and contentment. All which conception described above was explained excellently well by the four verses that were placed in the architrave, as with the others, which ran thus:
Musarum hic regnat chorus, atque Helicone virente
Posthabito, venere tibi Florentia vates
Eximii, quoniam celebrare hæc regia digno
Non potuere suo et connubia carmine sacro.
Opposite to this, placed on the left hand, and perhaps not less peculiar to the Florentine genius than the last-named, was seen the statue of Design, the father of painting, sculpture, and architecture, who, if not born in Florence, as may be seen in the past writings, may be said to have been born again there, and nourished and grown as in his own nest. He was figured by a statue wholly nude, with three similar heads for the three arts that he embraces, each holding in the hand some instrument, but without any distinction; and in the canvas that was beneath him was seen painted a vast courtyard, for the adornment of which were placed in various manners a great quantity of statues and of pictures in painting, both ancient and modern, which could be seen in process of being designed and copied by divers masters in divers ways. In one part was being prepared an anatomical study, and many could be seen observing it, and likewise drawing, very intently. Others, again, considering the fabric and rules of architecture, appeared to be seeking to measure certain things with great minuteness, the while that the divine Michelagnolo Buonarroti, prince and monarch of them all, with the three [Pg 47] circlets in his hand (his ancient device), making signs to Andrea del Sarto, Leonardo da Vinci, Pontormo, Rosso, Perino del Vaga, Francesco Salviati, Antonio da San Gallo, and Rustici, who were gathered with great reverence about him, was pointing out with supreme gladness the pompous entrance of the noble Lady. The ancient Cimabue, standing in another part, was doing as it were the same service to certain others, at whom Giotto appeared to be smiling, having taken from him, as Dante said so well, the field of painting which he thought to hold; and Giotto had with him, besides the Gaddi, Buffalmacco and Benozzo, with many others of that age. In another part, again, placed in another fashion and all rejoicing as they conversed, were seen those who conferred such benefits on art, and to whom these new masters owed so much; the great Donatello, Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Fra Filippo, the excellent Masaccio, Desiderio, and Verrocchio, with many others, portrayed from life, whom, since I have spoken of them in the previous books, I will pass by without saying more about them, thus avoiding the tedium that might come upon my readers by repetition. Who they were, and what they were come thither to do, was explained, as with the others, by four verses written above them:
Non pictura satis, non possunt marmora et æra
Tuscaque non arcus testari ingentia facta,
Atque ea præcipue quæ mox ventura trahuntur;
Quis nunc Praxiteles cælet, quis pingat Apelles?
Now in the base of all these six vast and most beautiful canvases was seen painted a gracious throng of children, each occupying himself in the profession appropriate to the canvas placed above, who, besides the adornment, were seen to be demonstrating with great accuracy with what beginnings one arrived at the perfection of the men painted above; even as with much judgment and singular art the same canvases were also divided and adorned by round and very tall columns and by pilasters, and by various ornaments of trophies all in keeping with the subjects to which they were near. But, above all, graceful and lovely in appearance were the ten devices, or, to speak more precisely, the ten reverses (as it [Pg 48] were) of medals, partly long established in the city and partly newly introduced, which were painted in the compartments over the columns, serving to divide the statues already described, and accompanying very appropriately their inventions; the first of which was the Deduction of a Colony, represented by a bull and a cow together in a yoke, and behind them the ploughman with the head veiled, as the ancient Augurs are depicted, with the crooked lituus in the hand, and with a motto, which said: COL. JUL. FLORENTIA. The second—and this is very ancient in the city, and the one wherewith public papers are generally sealed—was Hercules with the Club and with the skin of the Nemæan Lion, but without any motto. The third was the horse Pegasus, which with the hind feet was smiting the urn held by Arno, in the manner that is told of the Fount of Helicon; whence were issuing waters in abundance, which formed a river, crystal-clear, that was all covered with swans; but this, also, was without any motto. So, likewise, was the fourth, which was composed of a Mercury with the Caduceus in the hand, the purse, and the cock, such as is seen in many ancient cornelians. But the fifth, in accord with that Affection which, as was said at the beginning, was given to Florence as a companion, was a young woman receiving a crown of laurel from two figures, one on either side of her, which, clad in the military paludament and likewise crowned with laurel, appeared to be Consuls or Imperatores; with words that ran: GLORIA POP. FLOREN. So also the sixth, in like manner in accord with Fidelity, likewise the companion of Florence, was also figured by a woman seated, with an altar near her, upon which she was seen to be laying one of her hands, and with the other uplifted, holding the second finger raised in the manner wherein one generally sees an oath taken, she was seen to declare her intention with the inscription: FIDES. POP. FLOR. This, also, did the picture of the seventh, without any inscription; which was the two horns of plenty filled with ears of corn intertwined together. And the eighth, likewise without any inscription, did the same with the three Arts of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, which, after the manner of the three Graces, with hands linked to denote the interdependence of one art with another, were placed no less gracefully than the others upon [Pg 49] a base in which was seen carved a Capricorn. And so, also, did the ninth (placed more towards the Arno), which was the usual Florence with her Lion beside her, to whom various boughs of laurel were offered by certain persons standing around her, as it were showing themselves grateful for the benefits received from her, in that there, as has been told, letters began to revive. And the tenth and last did the same with its inscription that ran thus, TRIBU SCAPTIA, written upon a shield held by a Lion; which tribe was that of Augustus, her founder, and the one in which in ancient times Florence used to be enrolled.
But the finest ornament—besides the beautiful shields on which were the arms of their Excellencies, both the one and the other, and of the most illustrious Princess, and the device of the city, and besides the great Ducal crown of gold, which Florence was in the act of presenting—was the principal device, set over all the shields, and placed there in allusion to the city; which was composed of two halcyons making their nest in the sea at the beginning of winter. This was made clear by the part of the Zodiac that was painted there, wherein the Sun was seen at the point of entering into the Sign of Capricorn, with a motto that said, HOC FIDUNT, signifying that even as the halcyons, by the grace of Nature, at the time when the Sun is entering into the said Sign of Capricorn, which renders the sea smooth and tranquil, are able to make their nests there in security (whence such days are called "halcyon days"), so also Florence, with Capricorn in the ascendant, which is therefore the ancient and most honourable device of her excellent Duke, is able in whatever season the world may bring her to flourish in the greatest felicity and peace, as she does right well. And all this, with all the other conceptions given above, was declared in great part by the inscription which, addressed to the exalted bride, was written appropriately in a most ornate and beautiful place, saying:
INGREDERE URBEM FELICISSIMO CONJUGIO FACTAM TUAM, AUGUSTISSIMA VIRGO, FIDE, INGENIIS, ET OMNI LAUDE PRÆSTANTEM; OPTATAQUE PRÆSENTIA TUA, ET EXIMIA VIRTUTE, SPERATAQUE FECUNDITATE, OPTIMORUM PRINCIPUM PATERNAM ET AVITAM CLARITATEM, FIDELISSIMORUM CIVIUM LÆTITIAM, FLORENTIS URBIS GLORIAM ET FELICITATEM AUGE.
Proceeding, then, towards Borg' Ognissanti, a street, as everyone knows, most beautiful, spacious, and straight, there were at the entrance two very large colossal figures, one representing Austria, as a young woman in full armour after the antique, with a sceptre in the hand, signifying her military power as embodied in the Imperial dignity, which now has its residence in that nation and appears to be entirely concentrated there; and the other representing Tuscany, apparelled in religious vestments and with the sacerdotal lituus in the hand, which in like manner demonstrated the excellence that the Tuscan nation has always displayed from the most ancient times in the Divine cult, insomuch that even at the present day it is seen that the Pontiffs and the Holy Roman Church have chosen to establish their principal seat in Tuscany. Each of these had at her side a nude and gracious little Angel, one of whom was seen guarding the Imperial crown, and the other the crown that the Pontiffs are wont to use; and one figure was shown offering her hand most lovingly to the other, almost as if Austria, with her most noble cities (which were depicted under various images in the vast canvas that was as an ornament and head-piece, at the entrance to that street, facing towards the Porta al Prato), wished to signify that she was come parentally to take part in the rejoicings and festivities in honour of the illustrious bridal pair, and to meet and embrace her beloved Tuscany, thus in a certain sort uniting together the two most mighty powers, the spiritual and the temporal. All which was declared excellently well in the six verses that were written in a suitable place, saying:
Augustæ en adsum sponsæ comes Austria; magni
Cæsaris hæc nata est, Cæsaris atque soror.
Carolus est patruus, gens et fæcunda triumphis,
Imperio fulget, regibus et proavis.
Lætitiam et pacem adferimus dulcesque Hymeneos
Et placidam requiem, Tuscia clara, tibi.
Even as on the other side Tuscany, having yielded the first place at the first Gate to Florence, her Lady and her Queen, was seen with an [Pg 51] aspect all full of joy at receiving so great a Princess; having likewise in company with her, in a similar painted canvas beside her, Fiesole, Pisa, Siena, and Arezzo, with the most famous of her other cities, and with the Ombrone, the Arbia, the Serchio, and the Chiana, all depicted in various forms according to custom; and expressing her contentment in the six following verses, written in a way similar to the others, and in a suitable place:
Ominibus faustis et lætor imagine rerum,
Virginis aspectu Cæsareæque fruor.
Hæ nostræ insignes urbes, hæc oppida et agri,
Hæc tua sunt; illis tu dare jura potes.
Audis ut resonet lætis clamoribus æther,
Et plausu et ludis Austria cuncta fremat?
And to the end that the splendid nuptials might be celebrated with all the most favourable auspices, at the Palazzo de' Ricasoli, which, as everyone knows, is situated at the beginning of the Ponte alla Carraia, there was erected in the Doric Order of composition the third ornament, dedicated to Hymen, their God; and this consisted—in addition to a head-piece of singular beauty, on which the eyes of all who came through Borg' Ognissanti feasted with marvellous delight—of two very lofty and most magnificent portals, between which it stood, and over one of these, which gave access to those passing into the street called La Vigna, was placed with much judgment the statue of Venus Genetrix, perhaps alluding to the House of the Cæsars, which had its origin from Venus, or perchance auguring generation and fecundity for the bridal pair; with a motto taken from the Epithalamium of Theocritus, saying:
Κύπρις δὲ, Θεὰ Κύπρις, ἶσον ἔρασθαι ἀλλάλων.
And over the other, giving access along the bank of the Arno, through which the procession passed, was the statue of the Nurse Latona, perchance to ward off sterility or the jealous interference of Juno, and likewise with a motto that ran:
Δατὼ μὲν δοίη, Δατὼ κουροτρόφος ὔμμιν εὐτεκνίαν.
[Pg 52] As a complement to these, executed with singular artistry, upon a great base attached to one of the portals, there was seen on one side, as it were newly issued from the water, and in the form of a most beautiful giant with a garland of lilies, the River Arno, who, as if he wished to give an example of nuptial bliss, was locked in embrace with his Sieve, who had likewise a garland of leaves and apples; which apples, alluding to the balls of the Medici, of which they were the origin, would have been rosy, if the colour had been in keeping with the white marble. And Arno, all rejoicing, was shown speaking to his new Lady in the manner expressed by the following verses:
In mare nunc auro flaventes Arnus arenas
Volvam, atque argento purior unda fluet.
Etruscos nunc invictis comitantibus armis
Cæsareis, tollam sidera ad alta caput.
Nunc mihi fama etiam Tibrim fulgoreque rerum
Tantarum longe vincere fata dabunt.
And on the other side, as a complement to Arno, on a similar base attached in a similar way to the other portal (the two being turned, as it were, like wings one towards the other), and almost in the same form, were seen the Danube and the Drava likewise in a close embrace, and, even as the others had the Lion, so they had the Eagle as emblem and support; and these, crowned also with roses and with a thousand varieties of little flowers, were shown speaking to Florence, even as the others were speaking to themselves, the following verses:
Quamvis Flora tuis celeberrima finibus errem,
Sum septemgeminus Danubiusque ferox;
Virginis Augustæ comes, et vestigia lustro,
Ut reor, et si quod flumina numen habent,
Conjugium faustum et fœcundum et Nestoris annos,
Tuscorum et late nuntio regna tibi.
Then at the summit of the head-piece, in the place of honour, and with a close resemblance to the whitest marble, was seen the statue of the young Hymen, with a garland of flowering marjoram and the [Pg 53] torch and veil, and at his feet this inscription: BONI CONJUGATOR AMORIS. On one side of him was Love, who lay all languid under one of his flanks; and on the other side was Conjugal Fidelity, who was holding one arm supported under the other; which was all so pleasing, so full of charm, so beautiful, and so well distributed before the eyes of all beholders, that in truth it is not to be expressed in words. As the principal crown of that ornament—for on them all there was placed a principal crown and a principal device—there were formed in the hands of the Hymen described above two garlands of the same marjoram that crowned his head, which, as he held them, he appeared to be about to present to the happy pair. But most lovely and beautiful of all, and best executed, were the three spacious pictures, separated by double columns, into which the whole of that vast façade was divided, placed with supreme beauty at the feet of Hymen; for in them were depicted all the advantages, all the delights, and all the desirable things that are generally found in nuptials; those displeasing and vexatious being driven away from them with a certain subtle grace. And thus in one of these, that in the centre namely, were seen the Three Graces painted in the manner that is customary, all full of joy and gladness, who appeared to be singing with a certain soft harmony the verses written over them, saying:
Quæ tam præclara nascetur stirpe parentum
Inclita progenies, digna atavisque suis?
Etrusca attollet se quantis gloria rebus
Conjugio Austriacæ Mediceæque Domus?
Vivite felices; non est spes irrita, namque
Divina Charites talia voce canunt.
These had on one side, forming as it were a choir about them, and coupled becomingly together, Youth and Delight, and Beauty with Contentment in her embrace, and on the other side, in like fashion, Gladness with Play, and Fecundity with Repose, all in attitudes most graceful and in keeping with their characters, and so well distinguished by the able painter, that they could be recognized with ease. In the picture that was on the right of that one, there were seen, besides Love and Fidelity, the same Gladness, Contentment, Delight, and Repose, with [Pg 54] lighted torches in their hands, who were chasing from the world and banishing to the nethermost abyss Jealousy, Contention, Affliction, Sorrow, Lamentation, Deceit, Sterility, and other vexatious and displeasing things of that kind, which are wont so often to disturb the minds of human creatures. And in the other, on the left hand, were seen the same Graces in company with Juno, Venus, Concord, Love, Fecundity, Sleep, Pasithea, and Thalassius, setting the genial bed in order with those ancient religious ceremonies of torches, incense, garlands, and flowers, which were customary; of which last a number of little Loves, playing in their flight, were scattering no small quantity over the bed. Above these, then, were two other pictures distributed in very beautiful compartments, one on either side of the statue of Hymen, and somewhat smaller than those described; in one of which, in imitation of the ancient custom so well described by Catullus, was seen the illustrious Princess portrayed from life in the midst of a gracious little company of most beautiful maidens in virginal dress, all crowned with flowers, and with lighted torches in their hands, who were pointing towards the Evening Star, which was seen appearing, and, as if set in motion by them, seemed in a certain gracious manner to move and to advance towards Hymen; with the motto: O DIGNA CONJUNCTA VIRO. Even as in the other picture, on the other side, was seen the excellent Prince in the midst of many young men likewise crowned with garlands and burning with love, not less eager than the maidens in lighting the nuptial torches, and pointing no less towards the newly-appeared star, and giving signs, in advancing towards it, of equal or even greater desire; likewise with a motto that said: O TÆDIS FELICIBUS AUCTE. Above these, arranged in a very graceful manner, there was seen as the principal device, which, as has been told, was placed over all the arches, a gilded chain all composed of marriage-rings with their stones, which, hanging down from Heaven, appeared to be sustaining this terrestrial World; alluding in a certain sense to the Homeric Chain of Jove, and signifying that by virtue of nuptials, the heavenly causes being wedded with terrestrial matter, Nature and the aforesaid terrestrial World are preserved and rendered as it were eternal; with a motto that said: NATURA SEQUITUR CUPIDE. And then a quantity [Pg 55] of little Angels and Loves, all gracious and merry, and all set in fitting places, were seen dispersed among the bases, the pilasters, the festoons, and the other ornaments, which were without number; and all, with a certain gladness, appeared to be either scattering flowers and garlands, or sweetly singing the following ode, from among the spaces between the double columns that divided, as has been told, the great pictures and the great façade, which was arranged in a lovely and gracious manner:
Augusti soboles regia Cæsaris,
Summo nupta viro Principi Etruriæ,
Faustis auspiciis deseruit vagum
Istrum regnaque patria.
Cui frater, genitor, patruus, atque avi
Fulgent innumeri stemmate nobiles
Præclaro Imperii, prisca ab origine
Digno nomine Cæsares.
Ergo magnanimæ virgini et inclytæ
Jam nunc Arne pater suppliciter manus
Libes, et violis versicoloribus
Pulchram Flora premas comam.
Assurgant proceres, ac velut aureum
Et cæleste jubar rite colant eam.
Omnes accumulent templa Deum, et piis
Aras muneribus sacras.
Tali conjugio Pax hilaris redit,
Fruges alma Ceres porrigit uberes,
Saturni remeant aurea sæcula,
Orbis lætitia fremit.
Quin diræ Eumenides monstraque Tartari
His longe duce te finibus exulant.
Bellorum rabies hinc abit effera,
Mavors sanguineus fugit.
Sed jam nox ruit et sidera concidunt;
Et nymphæ adveniunt, Junoque pronuba
Arridet pariter, blandaque Gratia
Nudis juncta sororibus.
Lusus, læta Quies cernitur et Decor;
Quos circum volitat turba Cupidinum,
Et plaudens recinit hæc Hymeneus ad
Regalis thalami fores.
Quid statis juvenes tam genialibus
Indulgere toris immemores? Joci
Cessent et choreæ; ludere vos simul
Poscunt tempora mollius.
Non vincant hederæ bracchia flexiles,
Conchæ non superent oscula dulcia,
Emanet pariter sudor et ossibus
Grato murmure ab intimis.
Det summum imperium regnaque Juppiter,
Det Latona parem progeniem patri;
Ardorem unanimem det Venus, atque Amor
Aspirans face mutua.
And to the end that no part of either dominion might be left without being present at those happy nuptials, at the Ponte a S. Trinita and also at the Palazzo degli Spini, which is to be seen at the beginning of that bridge, there was the fourth ornament, of an architecture not less magnificent in composition, and consisting of a head-piece with three façades, one of which, turning to face towards the Ponte alla Carraia, became joined to that in the centre, which was somewhat bent and likewise attached to that which in like manner turned to face towards the Palazzo degli Spini and S. Trinita; whence it appeared to have been contrived principally for the point of view both from the one street and from the other, insomuch that both from the one and from the other it presented itself complete to the eyes of all beholders—a thing of singular artifice for him who well considers it, which rendered that street, which [Pg 57] is in itself as imposing and magnificent as any other that is to be found in Florence, even more imposing and more beautiful than could be believed. In the façade that came in the centre, there had been formed upon a great base two Giants, immense and most superb to behold, supported by two great monsters and by other extravagant fishes that appeared to be swimming in the sea, and accompanied by two sea-nymphs. These represented, one the great Ocean and the other the Tyrrhenian Sea, and, half reclining, they appeared to be seeking to present to the most illustrious pair, with a certain affectionate liberality, not only many most beautiful branches of coral and immense shells of mother-of-pearl, and others of their sea-riches that they held in their hands, but also new islands, new lands, and new dominions, which were seen led thither in their train. Behind them, making that whole ornament lovely and imposing, were seen rising little by little, from their socles that rested upon the base, two vast half-columns, upon which rested cornice, frieze, and architrave, leaving behind the Sea-Gods already described, almost in the form of a triumphal arch, a very spacious square; and over the two columns and the architrave rose two very well-formed pilasters covered with creepers, from which sprang two cornices, forming at the summit a superb and very bold frontispiece, at the top of which, and above the creepers of the pilasters already described, were seen placed three very large vases of gold, all filled to overflowing with thousands and thousands of different riches of the sea; and in the space that remained between the architrave and the point of the frontispiece, there was seen lying with rare dignity a masterly figure of a Nymph, representing Tethys, or Amphitrite, Goddess and Queen of the Sea, who with a very grave gesture was presenting as the principal crown of that place a rostral crown, such as was generally given to the victors in naval battles, with her motto, VINCE MARI, and as it were adding that which follows: JAM TERRA TUA EST. Even as in the picture and the façade behind the Giants, in a very large niche that had the appearance of a real and natural cavern or grotto, there was painted among many other monsters of the sea the Proteus of Virgil's Georgics, bound by Aristæus, who, pointing with his finger towards the verses written above him, appeared to wish [Pg 58] to announce in prophecy to the well-united pair good fortune, victories, and triumphs in maritime affairs, saying:
Germana adveniet felici cum alite virgo,
Flora, tibi, adveniet soboles Augusta, Hymenei
Cui pulcher Juvenis jungatur fœdere certo
Regius Italiæ columen, bona quanta sequentur
Conjugium? Pater Arne tibi, et tibi Florida Mater,
Gloria quanta aderit? Protheum nil postera fallunt.
And since, as has been told, this façade of the cavern stood between the two other façades, one of which was turned towards S. Trinita and the other towards the Ponte alla Carraia, both these, which were of the same size and height, were likewise bordered in a similar manner by two similar half-columns, which in like manner supported their architrave, frieze, and cornice in a quarter-round, upon which, both on the one side and on the other, were seen three statues of boys on three pedestals, who were upholding certain very rich festoons of gold, composed in a most masterly fashion of conches, shells, coral, sword-grass, and sea-weed, by which a no less graceful finish was given to the whole structure.
But to return to the space of the façade which, turning from the straight, was supported against the Palazzo degli Spini. In it was seen, painted in chiaroscuro, a Nymph all unadorned and little less than nude, placed between many new kinds of animals, who stood for the new land of Peru, with the other new West Indies, discovered and ruled for the most part under the auspices of the most fortunate House of Austria. She was turned towards a figure of Jesus Christ Our Lord, who, painted all luminous in a Cross in the air (alluding to the four exceeding bright stars which form the semblance of a Cross, newly discovered among those peoples), appeared in the manner of a Sun piercing some thick clouds with most resplendent rays, for which she seemed in a certain sense to be rendering much thanks to that house, in that by their means she was seen converted to the Divine worship and to the true Christian Religion, with the verses written below:
Even as on the base which supported that whole façade, and which, although on a level with that of the Giants, yet did not like that one project outwards, there was seen, painted as it were by way of allegory, the fable of Andromeda delivered by Perseus from the cruel Monster of the sea. And in that which, turning, faced towards the Arno and the Ponte alla Carraia, there was seen in like manner painted the small but famous Island of Elba, in the form of an armed warrior seated upon a great rock, with the Trident in her right hand, having on one side of her a little boy who was seen sporting playfully with a dolphin, and on the other side another like him, who was upholding an anchor, with many galleys that were shown circling about her port, which was painted there. At her feet, on her base, and corresponding in like manner to the façade painted above, was seen likewise the fable that is given by Strabo, when he relates that the Argonauts, returning from the acquisition of the Golden Fleece, and arriving with Medea in Elba, raised altars there and made sacrifice to Jove upon them; perhaps foreseeing or auguring that at another time our present glorious Duke, being as it were of their company by virtue of the Order of the Golden Fleece, was to fortify that island and to safeguard distressed mariners, thus reviving their ancient and glorious memory. Which was expressed excellently well by the four verses written there in a suitable place, saying:
Evenere olim Heroes qui littore in isto
Magnanimi votis petiere. En Ilva potentis
Auspiciis Cosmi multa munita opera ac vi;
Pacatum pelagus securi currite nautæ.
But the most beautiful effect, the most bizarre, the most fantastic, and the most ornate—besides the various devices and trophies, and Arion, who was riding pleasantly through the sea on the back of the swimming dolphin—came from an innumerable quantity of extravagant fishes of [Pg 60] the sea, Nereids, and Tritons, which were distributed among the friezes, pedestals, and bases, and wherever a space or the beauty of the place required them. Even as at the foot of the great base of the Giants there was another gracious effect in the form of a most beautiful Siren seated upon the head of a very large fish, from whose mouth at times, at the turning of a key, not without laughter among the expectant bystanders, a rushing jet of water was seen pouring upon such as were too eager to drink the white and red wine that flowed in abundance from the breasts of the Siren into a very capacious and most ornate basin. And since the bend of the façade where Elba was painted was the first thing to strike the eyes of those who came, as did the procession, from the Ponte alla Carraia along the Arno towards the Palazzo degli Spini, it seemed good to the inventor to hide the ugliness of the scaffolding and woodwork that were necessarily placed behind, by raising to the same height another new façade similar to the three described, which might, as it did, render that whole vista most festive and ornate. And in it, within a large oval, it appeared to him that it was well to place the principal device, embracing the whole conception of the structure; and to that end, therefore, there was seen figured a great Neptune on his usual Car, with the usual Trident, as he is described by Virgil, chasing away the troublesome winds, and using as a motto the very same words, MATURATE FUGAM; as if he wished to promise to the fortunate pair happiness, peace, and tranquillity in his realm.
Opposite to the graceful Palace of the Bartolini there had been erected a short time before, as a more stable and enduring ornament, not without singular ingenuity, that ancient and immense column of oriental granite which had been taken from the Baths of Antoninus in Rome, and granted by Pius IV to our glorious Duke, and by him conveyed, although at no little expense, to Florence, and magnanimously presented to her as a courteous gift for her public adornment. Upon that column, over its beautiful capital, which had, like the base, the [Pg 61] appearance of bronze, and which is now being made of real bronze, there was placed a statue (of clay, indeed, but in the colour of porphyry, because even so it is to be), very large and very excellent, of a woman in full armour, with a helmet on the head, and representing, by the sword in the right hand and by the scales in the left, an incorruptible and most valorous Justice.
The sixth ornament was erected at the Canto de' Tornaquinci; and here I must note a thing which would appear incredible to one who had not seen it—namely, that this ornament was so magnificent, so rich in pomp, and fashioned with so much art and grandeur, that, although it was conjoined with the superb Palace of the Strozzi, which is such as to make the greatest things appear as nothing, and although on a site altogether disastrous by reason of the uneven ends of the streets that run together there, and certain other inconvenient circumstances, nevertheless such was the excellence of the craftsman, and so well conceived the manner of the work, that it seemed as if all those difficulties had been brought together there for the purpose of rendering it the more admirable and the more beautiful; that most lovely palace being so well accompanied by the richness of the ornaments, the height of the arches, the grandeur of the columns, all intertwined with arms and trophies, and the great statues that towered over the summit of the whole structure, that anyone would have judged that neither that ornament required any other accompaniment than that of such a palace, nor such a palace required any other ornament. And to the end that all may be the better understood, and in order to show more clearly and distinctly in what manner the work was constructed, it is necessary that some measure of pardon should be granted to us by those who are not of our arts, if for the sake of those who delight in them we proceed, more minutely than might appear proper to the others, to describe the nature of the sites and the forms of the arches; and this in order to demonstrate how noble intellects accommodate ornaments to places and inventions to sites with grace and beauty. We must relate, then, that since the street which runs [Pg 62] from the Column to the Tornaquinci is, as everyone knows, very wide, and since it was necessary to pass from there into the street of the Tornabuoni, which by its narrowness brought it about that the eyes of those thus passing fell for the most part on the not very ornate Tower of the Tornaquinci, which occupies more than half the street, it was thought expedient, in order to obviate that difficulty and to make the effect more pleasing, to construct in the width of the above-named street, in a Composite Order, two arches divided by a most ornate column, one of which gave free passage to the procession, which proceeded through the said street of the Tornabuoni, and the other, concealing the view of the tower, appeared, by virtue of an ingenious prospect-scene that was painted there, to lead into another street similar to the said street of the Tornabuoni, wherein with most pleasing illusion were seen not only the houses and windows adorned with tapestries and full of men and women who were all intent on gazing at the spectacle, but also the gracious sight of a most lovely maiden on a white palfrey, accompanied by certain grooms, who appeared to be coming from there towards those approaching, insomuch that both on the day of the procession and all the time afterwards that she remained there, she roused in more than one person, by a gracious deception, a desire either to go to meet her or to wait until she should have passed. These two arches, besides the above-mentioned column that divided them, were bordered by other columns of the same size, which supported architraves, friezes, and cornices; and over each arch was seen a lovely ornament in the form of a most beautiful picture, in which were seen painted, likewise in chiaroscuro, the stories of which we shall speak in a short time. The whole work was crowned above by an immense cornice with ornaments corresponding to the loveliness, grandeur, and magnificence of the rest, upon which, then, stood the statues, which, although they were at a height of a good twenty-five braccia from the level of the ground, nevertheless were wrought with such proportion that the height did not take away any of their grace, nor the distance any of the effect of any detail of their adornment and beauty. There stood in the same manner, as it were as wings to those two main arches, on the one side and on the [Pg 63] other, two other arches, one of which, attached to the Palace of the Strozzi, and leading to the above-mentioned Tower of the Tornaquinci, gave passage to those who wished to turn towards the Mercato Vecchio, even as the other, placed on the other side, did the same service to those who might desire to go towards the street called La Vigna; wherefore the Via di S. Trinita, which, as has been told, is so broad, terminating thus in the four arches described, came to present such loveliness and a view so beautiful and so heroic, that it appeared impossible to afford greater satisfaction to the eyes of the spectators. And this was the front part, composed, as has been described, of four arches; of two main arches, namely, one false, and one real, which led into the Via de' Tornabuoni, and of two others at the sides, in the manner of wings, which were turned towards the two cross-streets. Now since, entering into the said street of the Tornabuoni on the left side, beside the Vigna, there debouches (as everyone knows) the Strada di S. Sisto, which likewise of necessity strikes the flank of the same Tower of the Tornaquinci, it was made to appear, in order to hide the same ugliness in a similar manner with the same illusion of a similar prospect-scene, that that side also passed into a similar street of various houses placed in the same way, with an ingenious view of a very ornate fountain overflowing with crystal-clear waters, from which a woman with a child was represented as drawing some, so that one who was at no great distance would certainly have declared that she was real and by no means simulated. Now these four arches—to return to those in front—were supported and divided by five columns adorned in the manner described, forming as it were a rectangular piazza; and in a line with each of those columns, above the final cornice and the summit of the edifice, there was a most beautiful seat, while in the same manner four others were placed over the centre of each arch, which in all came to the number of nine. In eight of these was seen seated in each a statue of most imposing appearance, some shown in armour, some in the garb of peace, and others in the imperator's paludament, according to the characters of those who were portrayed in them; and in place of the ninth seat and the ninth statue, above the column in the centre, was seen placed an immense escutcheon, supported [Pg 64] by two great Victories with the Imperial Crown of the House of Austria, to which that structure was dedicated; which was made manifest by a very large epitaph, which was seen placed with much grace and beauty below the escutcheon, saying:
VIRTUTI FELICITATIQUE INVICTISSIMÆ DOMUS AUSTRIÆ, MAJESTATIQUE TOT ET TANTORUM IMPERATORUM AC REGUM, QUI IN IPSA FLORUERUNT ET NUNC MAXIME FLORENT, FLORENTIA AUGUSTO CONJUGIO PARTICEPS ILLIUS FELICITATIS, GRATO PIOQUE ANIMO DICAT.
The intention had been, after bringing to those most splendid nuptials the Province of Austria, with her cities and rivers and with her ocean-sea, and after having caused her to be received by Tuscany with her cities, the Arno, and the Tyrrhenian Sea, as has been related, to bring then her great and glorious Cæsars, all magnificent in adornment and pomp, as is the general custom in taking part in nuptials; as if they, having conducted thither with them the illustrious bride, were come before to have the first meeting of kinsmen with the House of Medici, and to prove of what stock, and how glorious, was the noble virgin that they sought to present to them. And so, of the eight above-mentioned statues placed upon the eight seats, representing eight Emperors of that august house, there was seen on the right hand of the above-named escutcheon, over the arch through which the procession passed, that of Maximilian II, the present magnanimous and excellent Emperor, and brother of the bride; below whom, in a very spacious picture, there was seen painted with most beautiful invention his marvellous assumption to the Empire, himself being seated in the midst of the Electors, both spiritual and temporal, the first being recognized—besides their long vestments—by a Faith that was to be seen at their feet, and the others by a Hope in a like position. In the air, also, over his head, were seen certain little Angels that seemed to be chasing many malign spirits out of certain thick and dark clouds; these being intended either to suggest the hope which is felt that at some time, in that all-conquering and most constant nation, men will contrive to dissipate and clear away the clouds of those many disturbances that have occurred there in matters of religion, and restore her to her pristine purity and serenity of tranquil [Pg 65] concord; or rather, that in that act all dissensions had flown away, and showing how marvellously, and with what unanimous consent of all Germany, amid that great variety of minds and religions, that assumption had taken place, which was explained by the words that were placed above, saying:
MAXIMILIANUS II SALUTATUR IMP. MAGNO CONSENSU GERMANORUM, ATQUE INGENTI LÆTITIA BONORUM OMNIUM, ET CHRISTIANÆ PIETATIS FELICITATE.
Then, next to the statue of the said Maximilian, in a place corresponding to the column at the corner, was seen that of the truly invincible Charles V; even as over the arch of that wing, which commanded the Via della Vigna, there was that of the second Albert, a man of most resolute valour, although he reigned but a short time. Above the column at the head was placed that of the great Rudolph, who, the first of that name, was also the first to introduce into that most noble house the Imperial dignity, and the first to enrich her with the great Archduchy of Austria; when, having reverted to the Empire for lack of a successor, he invested with it the first Albert, his son, whence the House of Austria has since taken its name. All which, in memory of an event so important, was seen painted in a most beautiful manner in the frieze above that arch, with an inscription at the foot that said:
RODULPHUS PRIMUS EX HAC FAMILIA IMP. ALBERTUM PRIMUM AUSTRIÆ PRINCIPATU DONAT.
But to return to the part on the left, beginning with the same place in the centre; beside the escutcheon, and over the false arch that covered the Tower of the Tornaquinci, was seen the statue of the most devout Ferdinand, father of the bride, beneath whose feet was seen painted the valorous resistance made by his efforts in the year 1529 in the defence of Vienna against the terrible assault of the Turks; demonstrated by the inscription written above, which said:
FERDINANDUS PRIMUS IMP., INGENTIBUS COPIIS TURCORUM CUM REGE IPSORUM PULSIS, VIENNAM NOBILEM URBEM FORTISSIME FELICISSIMEQUE DEFENDIT.
[Pg 66] Even as at the corner there was the statue of the first and most renowned Maximilian, and over the arch that inclined towards the Palace of the Strozzi that of the pacific Frederick, father of that same Maximilian, leaning against an olive-trunk. Above the last column, which was attached to the above-named Palace of the Strozzi, was seen that of the first Albert mentioned above, who, as has been told, was first invested by his father Rudolph with the sovereignty of Austria, and gave to that most noble house the arms that are still to be seen at the present day. Those arms used formerly to be five little larks on a gold ground, whereas the new arms, which, as everyone may see, are all red with a white band that divides them, are said to have been introduced by him in that form because, as was seen painted there in a great picture beneath his feet, he found himself not otherwise in that most bloody battle fought by him with Adolf, who had been first deposed from the Imperial throne, when the said Albert was seen to slay Adolf valorously with his own hand and to win from him the Spolia Opima; and since, save for the middle of his person, which was white on account of his armour, over all the rest he found himself on that day all stained and dabbled with blood, he ordained that in memory of that his arms should be painted in the same manner both of form and colour, and that they should be preserved gloriously after him by his successors in that house; and beneath the picture, as with the others, there was to be read a similar inscription that said:
ALBERTUS I IMP. ADOLPHUM, CUI LEGIBUS IMPERIUM ABROGATUM FUERAT, MAGNO PRŒLIO VINCIT ET SPOLIA OPIMA REFERT.
And since each of the eight above-mentioned Emperors, besides the arms common to their whole house, also used during his lifetime arms private and peculiar to himself, for that reason, in order to make it more manifest to the beholders which Emperor each of the statues represented, there were also placed beneath their feet, on most beautiful shields, the particular arms that each, as has been told, had borne. All which, together with some pleasing and well-accommodated little scenes that were painted on the pedestals, made a magnificent, heroic, and very ornate effect; even as not less was done, on the columns and in all the [Pg 67] parts where ornaments could be suitably placed, in addition to trophies and the arms, by the Crosses of S. Andrew, the Fusils, and the Pillars of Hercules, with the motto, PLUS ULTRA, the principal device of that arch, and many others like it used by the men of that Imperial family.
Such, then, was the principal view which presented itself to those who chose to pass by the direct way with the procession; but for those who came from the opposite direction, from the Via de' Tornabuoni towards the Tornaquinci, there appeared, with an ornamentation perhaps not less lovely, in so far as the narrowness of the street permitted, a similar spectacle arranged in due proportion. For on that side, which we will call the back, there was formed, as it were, another structure similar to that already described, save that on account of the narrowness of the street, whereas the first was seen composed of four arches, the other was of three only; one of which being joined with friezes and cornices to that upon which, as has been told, was placed the statue of the second Maximilian, now Emperor, and thus making it double, and another likewise attached to the above-described prospect-scene which concealed the tower, brought it about that the third, leaving also behind it a little quadrangular piazza, remained as the last for one coming with the procession, and appeared as the first for one approaching, on the contrary, from the street of the Tornabuoni; and upon that last, which was in the same form as those described, even as upon them were the Emperors, so upon it were seen towering, but standing on their feet, the two Kings Philip, one the father and the other the son of the great Charles V, the first Philip, namely, and also the second, so filled with liberality and justice, whom at the present day we honour as the great and puissant King of so many most noble realms. Between him and the statue of his grandfather there was seen painted in the circumambient frieze that same Philip II seated in majesty, and standing before him a tall woman in armour, recognized by the white cross that she had on the breast as being Malta, delivered by him through the valour of the most illustrious Lord Don Garzia di Toledo, who was portrayed there, from the siege of the Turks; and she appeared to be seeking, as one grateful for that great service, to offer to him the obsidional crown of [Pg 68] dog's grass, which was made manifest by the inscription written beneath, which said:
MELITA, EREPTA E FAUCIBUS IMMANISSIMORUM HOSTIUM STUDIO ET AUXILIIS PIISSIMI REGIS PHILIPPI, CONSERVATOREM SUUM CORONA GRAMINEA DONAT.
And to the end that the part turned towards the Strada della Vigna might have likewise some adornment, it was thought a fitting thing to declare the conception of the whole vast structure by a great inscription between the final cornice, where the statues stood, and the arch, which was a large space, saying:
IMPERIO LATE FULGENTES ASPICE REGES;
AUSTRIACA HOS OMNES EDIDIT ALTA DOMUS.
HIS INVICTA FUIT VIRTUS, HIS CUNCTA SUBACTA,
HIS DOMITA EST TELLUS, SERVIT ET OCEANUS.
Even as was done in the same manner and for the same reason towards the Mercato Vecchio, in another inscription, saying:
IMPERIIS GENS NATA BONIS ET NATA TRIUMPHIS,
QUAM GENUS E CŒLO DUCERE NEMO NEGET;
TUQUE NITENS GERMEN DIVINÆ STIRPIS ETRUSCIS
TRADITUM AGRIS NITIDIS, UT SOLA CULTA BEES;
SI MIHI CONTINGAT VESTRO DE SEMINE FRUCTUM
CARPERE ET IN NATIS CERNERE DETUR AVOS,
O FORTUNATAM! VERO TUNC NOMINE FLORENS
URBS FERAR, IN QUAM FORS CONGERAT OMNE BONUM.
Now it appeared a fitting thing, having brought the triumphant Cæsars to the place described above, to bring the magnanimous Medici, also, with all their pomp, to the corner that is called the Canto de' Carnesecchi, which is not far distant from it; as if, reverently receiving the Cæsars, as is the custom, they were come to hold high revel and to do [Pg 69] honour to the new-come bride, so much desired. And here, no less than in some of the passages to follow, it will be necessary that I should be pardoned by those who are not of our arts for describing minutely the nature of the site and the form of the arches and other ornaments, for the reason that it is my intention to demonstrate not less the excellence of the hands and brushes of the craftsmen who executed the works, than the fertility and acuteness of brain of him who was the author of the stories and of the whole invention; and particularly because the site in that place was perhaps more disastrous and more difficult to accommodate than any of the others described or about to be described. For there the street turns towards S. Maria del Fiore, inclining to somewhat greater breadth, and comes to form the angle that by those of our arts is called obtuse; and that was the side on the right. Opposite, and on the left-hand side, there is a little piazza into which two streets lead, one that comes from the great Piazza di S. Maria Novella, and the other likewise from another piazza called the Piazza Vecchia. In that little piazza, which is in truth very ill proportioned, there was built over all the lower part a structure in the form of an octagonal theatre, the doors of which were rectangular and in the Tuscan Order; and over each of them was seen a niche between two columns, with cornices, architraves, and other ornaments, rich and imposing, of Doric architecture, and then, rising higher, there was formed the third range, wherein was seen above the niches, in each space, a compartment with most beautiful ornaments in painting. Now it is but proper to remark that although it has been said that the doors below were rectangular and Tuscan, nevertheless the two by which the principal road entered and issued forth, and by which the procession was to pass, were made in the semblance of arches, and projected for no small distance in the manner of vestibules, one towards the entrance and the other towards the exit, both the one and the other having been made as rich and ornate on the outer façade as was required for the sake of proportion.
Having thus described the general form of the whole edifice, let us come down to the details, beginning with the front part, which presented itself first to the eyes of passers-by and was after the manner of a [Pg 70] triumphal arch, as has been told, in the Corinthian Order. That arch was seen bordered on one side and on the other by two most warlike statues in armour, each of which, resting upon a graceful little door, was seen likewise coming forth from the middle of a niche placed between two well-proportioned columns. Of these statues, that which was to be seen on the right hand represented Duke Alessandro, the son-in-law of the most illustrious Charles V, a Prince spirited and bold, and of most gracious manners, holding in one hand his sword, and in the other the Ducal baton, with a motto placed at his feet, which said, on account of his untimely death: SI FATA ASPERA RUMPAS, ALEXANDER ERIS. On the left hand was seen, portrayed like all the others from life, the most valorous Signor Giovanni, with the butt of a broken lance in the hand, and likewise with his motto at his feet: ITALUM FORTISS. DUCTOR. And since over the architraves of those four columns already described there were placed very spacious friezes in due proportion, in the width covered by the niches there was seen above each of the statues a compartment between two pilasters; in that above Duke Alessandro was seen in painting the device of a rhinoceros, used by him, with the motto: NON BUELVO SIN VENCER; and above the statue of Signor Giovanni, in the same fashion, his flaming thunderbolt. Above the arch in the centre, which, being more than seven braccia in width and more than two squares in height, gave ample room for the procession to pass, and above the cornice and the frontispieces, there was seen seated in majestic beauty that of the wise and valorous Duke Cosimo, the excellent father of the fortunate bridegroom, likewise with his motto at his feet, which said: PIETATE INSIGNIS ET ARMIS; and with a She-Wolf and a Lion on either side of him, representing Siena and Florence, which, supported and regarded lovingly by him, seemed to be reposing affectionately together. That statue was seen set in the frieze, exactly in a line with the arch, and between the pictures with the devices described; and in that same width, above the crowning cornice, there rose on high another painted compartment, with pilasters in due proportion, cornice, and other embellishments, wherein with great fitness, alluding to the election of the above-named Duke Cosimo, was seen represented the story of the young [Pg 71] David when he was anointed King by Samuel, with his motto: A DOMINO FACTUM EST ISTUD. And then, above that last cornice, which was raised a very great distance from the ground, was seen the escutcheon of that most adventuresome family, which, large and magnificent as was fitting, was likewise supported, with the Ducal Crown, by two Victories also in imitation of marble; and over the principal entrance of the arch, in the most becoming place, was the inscription, which said:
VIRTUTI FELICITATIQUE ILLUSTRISSIMÆ MEDICEÆ FAMILIÆ, QUÆ FLOS ITALIÆ, LUMEN ETRURIÆ, DECUS PATRIÆ SEMPER FUIT, NUNC ASCITA SIBI CÆSAREA SOBOLE CIVIBUS SECURITATEM ET OMNI SUO IMPERIO DIGNITATEM AUXIT, GRATA PATRIA DICAT.
Entering within that arch, one found a kind of loggia, passing spacious and long, with the vaulting above all painted and embellished with the most bizarre and beautiful ornaments and with various devices. After which, in two pilasters over which curved an arch, through which was the entrance into the above-mentioned theatre, there were seen opposite to one another two most graceful niches, as it were conjoined with that second arch; between which niches and the arch first described there were seen on the counterfeit walls that supported the loggia two spacious painted compartments, the stories of which accompanied becomingly each its statue. Of these statues, that on the right hand was made to represent the great Cosimo, called the Elder, who, although there had been previously in the family of the Medici many men noble and distinguished in arms and in civil actions, was nevertheless the first founder of its extraordinary greatness, and as it were the root of that plant which has since grown so happily to such magnificence. In his picture was seen painted the supreme honour conferred upon him by his native Florence, when he was acclaimed by the public Senate as Pater Patriæ; which was declared excellently well in the inscription that was seen below, saying:
COSMUS MEDICES, VETERE HONESTISSIMO OMNIUM SENATUS CONSULTO RENOVATO, PARENS PATRIÆ APPELLATUR.
[Pg 72] In the upper part of the same pilaster in which was placed the niche, there was a little picture in due proportion wherein was portrayed his son, the magnificent Piero, father of the glorious Lorenzo, likewise called the Elder, the one and true Mæcenas of his times, and the magnanimous preserver of the peace of Italy, whose statue was seen in the other above-mentioned niche, corresponding to that of the Elder Cosimo. In the little picture, which he in like manner had over his head, was painted the portrait of his brother, the magnificent Giuliano, the father of Pope Clement; and in the large picture, corresponding to that of Cosimo, was the public council held by all the Italian Princes, wherein was seen formed, by the advice of Lorenzo, that so stable and so prudent union by which, as long as he was alive and it endured, Italy was seen brought to the height of felicity, whereas afterwards, Lorenzo dying and that union perishing, she was seen precipitated into such conflagrations, calamities, and ruin; which was demonstrated no less clearly by the inscription that was beneath, saying:
LAURENTIUS MEDICES, BELLI ET PACIS ARTIBUS EXCELLENS, DIVINO SUO CONSILIO CONJUNCTIS ANIMIS ET OPIBUS PRINCIPUM ITALORUM ET INGENTI ITALIÆ TRANQUILLITATE PARTA, PARENS OPTIMI SÆCULI APPELLATUR.
Now, coming to the little piazza in which, as has been told, was placed the octagonal theatre, as I shall call it, and beginning from that first entrance to go round on the right hand, let me say that the first part was occupied by that arch of the entrance, above which, in a frieze corresponding in height to the third and last range of the theatre, were seen in four ovals the portrait of Giovanni di Bicci, father of Cosimo the Elder, and that of his son Lorenzo, brother of the same Cosimo, from whom this fortunate branch of the Medici now reigning had its origin; with that of Pier Francesco, son of the above-named Lorenzo, and likewise that of another Giovanni, father of the warlike Signor Giovanni mentioned above. In the second façade of the octagon, which was joined to the entrance, there was seen between two most ornate columns, seated in a great niche, with the royal staff in the hand, a figure in marble, like all the other statues, of Caterina, the valorous Queen of France, [Pg 73] with all the other ornaments that are required in architecture both lovely and heroic. And in the third range above, where, as has been said, the painted compartments came, there was figured for her scene the same Queen seated in majesty, who had before her two most beautiful women in armour, one of whom, representing France, and kneeling before her, was shown presenting to her a handsome boy adorned with a royal crown, even as the other, who was Spain, standing, was shown in like manner presenting to her a most lovely girl; the boy being intended for the most Christian Charles IX, who is now revered as King of France, and the girl the most noble Queen of Spain, wife of the excellent King Philip. Then, about the same Caterina, were seen standing with much reverence some other smaller boys, representing her other most gracious little children, for whom a Fortune appeared to be holding sceptres, crowns, and realms. And since between that niche and the arch of the entrance, on account of the disproportion of the site, there was some space left over, caused by the desire to make the arch not ungracefully awry, but well-proportioned and straight, for that reason there was placed there, as it were in a niche, a painted picture wherein by means of a Prudence and a Liberality, who stood clasped in a close embrace, it was shown very ingeniously with what guides the House of Medici had come to such a height; having above them, painted in a little picture equal in breadth to the others of the third range, a Piety humble and devout, recognized by the stork that was beside her, round whom were seen many little Angels that were showing to her various designs and models of the many churches, monasteries, and convents built by that magnificent and religious family. Now, proceeding to the third side of the octagon, where there was the arch by which one issued from the theatre, over the frontispiece of that arch was placed, as the heart of so many noble members, the statue of the most excellent and amiable Prince and Spouse, and at his feet the motto: SPES ALTERA FLORÆ. In the frieze above—meaning, as before, that this came to the height of the third range—to correspond to the other arch, where, as has been told, four portraits had been placed, in that part, also, were four other similar portraits of his illustrious brothers, accommodated in a similar manner; those, namely, of the two very [Pg 74] reverend Cardinals, Giovanni of revered memory and the most gracious Ferdinando, and those of the handsome Signor Don Garzia and the amiable Signor Don Pietro. Then, to go on to the fourth face, since the corner of the houses that are there, not giving room for the hollow of any recess, did not permit of the usual niche being made there, in its stead was seen accommodated with beautiful artifice, corresponding to the niches, a very large inscription that said:
HI, QUOS SACRA VIDES REDIMITOS TEMPORA MITRA
PONTIFICES TRIPLICI, ROMAM TOTUMQUE PIORUM
CONCILIUM REXERE PII; SED QUI PROPE FULGENT
ILLUSTRI E GENTE INSIGNES SAGULISVE TOGISVE
HEROES, CLARAM PATRIAM POPULUMQUE POTENTEM
IMPERIIS AUXERE SUIS CERTAQUE SALUTE.
NAM SEMEL ITALIAM DONARUNT AUREA SÆCLA,
CONJUGIO AUGUSTO DECORANT NUNC ET MAGE FIRMANT.
Above it, in place of scene and picture, there were painted in two ovals the two devices, one of the fortunate Duke, the Capricorn with the seven Stars and with the motto, FIDUCIA FATI; and the other of the excellent Prince, the Weasel, with the motto, AMAT VICTORIA CURAM. Then in the three niches that came in the three following façades were the statues of the three Supreme Pontiffs who have come from that family; all rejoicing, likewise, to lend their honourable presence to so great a festival, as if every favour human and divine, every excellence in arms, letters, wisdom, and religion, and every kind of sovereignty, were assembled together to vie in rendering those splendid nuptials august and happy. Of those Pontiffs one was Pius IV, departed a short time before to a better life, over whose head, in his picture, was seen painted how, after the intricate disputes were ended at Trent and the sacrosanct Council was finished, the two Cardinal Legates presented to him its inviolable decrees; even as in that of Leo X was seen the conference held by him with Francis I, King of France, whereby with prudent counsel he bridled the vehemence of that bellicose and victorious Prince, so that he did not turn all Italy upside down, as he might perchance have done, and as he was certainly able to do; and in that of Clement VII [Pg 75] was the Coronation, performed by him in Bologna, of the great Charles V. But in the last façade, which hit against the acute angle of the houses of the Carnesecchi, by which the straight line of that façade of the octagon was no little interrupted, nevertheless there was made with gracious and pleasing artifice another masterly inscription, after the likeness of the other, but curving somewhat outwards, which said:
PONTIFICES SUMMOS MEDICUM DOMUS ALTA LEONEM,
CLEMENTEM DEINCEPS, EDIDIT INDE PIUM.
QUID TOT NUNC REFERAM INSIGNES PIETATE VEL ARMIS
MAGNANIMOSQUE DUCES EGREGIOSQUE VIROS?
GALLORUM INTER QUOS LATE REGINA REFULGET,
HÆC REGIS CONJUNX, HÆC EADEM GENITRIX.
Such, as a whole, was the interior of the theatre described above; but although it may appear to have been described minutely enough, it is none the less true that an infinity of other ornaments, pictures, devices, and a thousand most bizarre and most beautiful fantasies which were placed throughout the Doric cornices and many spaces according to opportunity, making a very rich and gracious effect, have been omitted as not being essential, in order not to weary the perhaps already tired reader; and anyone who delights in such things may imagine that no part was left without being finished with supreme mastery, consummate judgment, and infinite loveliness. And a most pleasing and beautiful finish was given to the highest range by the many arms that were seen distributed there in due proportion, which were Medici and Austria for the illustrious Prince, the bridegroom, and her Highness; Medici and Toledo for the Duke, his father; Medici and Austria again, recognized by the three feathers as belonging to his predecessor Alessandro; Medici and Boulogne in Picardy for Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino; Medici and Savoy for Duke Giuliano; Medici and Orsini for the double kinship of the Elder Lorenzo and his son Piero; Medici and the Viper for the above-named Giovanni, husband of Caterina Sforza; Medici and Salviati for the glorious Signor Giovanni, his son; France and Medici for her most serene Highness the Queen; Ferrara and Medici for the Duke, with one of the sisters of the most excellent bridegroom; [Pg 76] and Orsini and Medici for the other most gentle sister, married to the illustrious Signor Paolo Giordano, Duke of Bracciano.
It now remains for us to describe the last part of the theatre and the exit, which, corresponding in size, in proportion, and in every other respect to the entrance already described, there will be little labour, I believe, in making known to the intelligent reader; save only that the arch which formed the façade there, facing towards S. Maria del Fiore, had been constructed, as a part less important, without statues and with somewhat less magnificence, and in their stead there had been placed over that arch a very large inscription, which said:
VIRTUS RARA TIBI, STIRPS ILLUSTRISSIMA, QUONDAM
CLARUM TUSCORUM DETULIT IMPERIUM;
QUOD COSMUS FORTI PRÆFUNCTUS MUNERE MARTIS
PROTULIT ET JUSTA CUM DITIONE REGIT:
NUNC EADEM MAJOR DIVINA E GENTE JOANNAM
ALLICIT IN REGNUM CONCILIATQUE TORO.
QUÆ SI CRESCET ITEM VENTURA IN PROLE NEPOTES,
AUREA GENS TUSCIS EXORIETUR AGRIS.
In the two pilasters that were at the beginning of the passage, or vestibule, as we have called it (over which pilasters rose the arch of the exit, upon which was the statue of the illustrious bridegroom), were seen two niches, in one of which was placed the statue of the most gentle Giuliano, Duke of Nemours, the younger brother of Leo and Gonfalonier of Holy Church, who had likewise in the little picture that was above him the portrait of the magnanimous Cardinal Ippolito, his son, and, in the picture that stretched towards the exit, the scene of the Capitoline Theatre, dedicated to him by the Roman people in the year 1513, with an inscription to make this known, which said:
JULIANUS MEDICES EXIMIÆ VIRTUTIS ET PROBITATIS ERGO SUMMIS A POP. ROM. HONORIBUS DECORATUR, RENOVATA SPECIE ANTIQUÆ DIGNITATIS AC LÆTITIÆ.
In the other niche, corresponding to the first statue, and, like it, standing and in armour, was seen the statue of Lorenzo the Younger, Duke of [Pg 77] Urbino, with a sword in the hand; and in the little picture above him he had the portrait of his father Piero, and in the other picture the scene when the general's baton was given to him with such happy augury by his native Florence, likewise with an inscription to explain it, which said:
LAURENTIUS MED. JUNIOR MAXIMA INVICTÆ VIRTUTIS INDOLE, SUMMUM IN RE MILITARI IMPERIUM MAXIMO SUORUM CIVIUM AMORE ET SPE ADIPISCITUR.
At the corner which from the straw that is constantly sold there is called the Canto alla Paglia, there was made another arch of great beauty and not less rich and imposing than any of the others. Now it may perchance appear to some, for the reason that all or the greater part of those ornaments have been extolled by us as in the highest rank of beauty and excellence of artistry, pomp, and richness, that this has been done by reason of a certain manner of writing inclined to overmuch praise and exaggeration. But everyone may take it as very certain that those works, besides leaving a long way behind them all things of that kind as were ever executed in that city, and perhaps in any other place, were also such, and ordained with such grandeur, magnificence, and liberality by those magnanimous Lords, and executed in such a manner by the craftsmen, that they surpassed by a great measure every expectation, and took away from no matter what writer all force and power to attain with the pen to the excellence of the reality.
Now, to return, I say that in that place—in that part, namely, where the street that leads from the Archbishop's Palace into the Borgo S. Lorenzo, dividing the above-named Strada della Paglia, forms a perfect crossing of the ways, was made the ornament already mentioned, much after the likeness of the ancient four-fronted Temple of Janus; and, for the reason that from there the Cathedral Church could be seen, it was ordained by those truly religious Princes that it should be dedicated to sacrosanct Religion, in which how eminent all Tuscany, and Florence in particular, has been at all times, I do not believe that it is necessary for me to take much pains to demonstrate. And therein the intention [Pg 78] was that since Florence had brought with her, as was told at the beginning, as her handmaids and companions, to give the first welcome to the new bride, some of the virtues or attributes that had raised her to greatness, and in which she could well vaunt herself, the intention, I say, was to show that there also, for a no less necessary office, she had left Religion, that she, awaiting the bride, might in a certain manner introduce her into the vast and most ornate church so near at hand. That arch, then, which was in a very broad street, as has been told, was seen formed of four very ornate façades, the first of which presented itself to the eyes of one going in the direction of the Carnesecchi, and another, following the limb of the cross, faced towards S. Giovanni and the Duomo of S. Maria del Fiore, leaving two other façades on the cross-limb of the cross, one of which looked towards S. Lorenzo and the other towards the Archbishop's Palace. And now, to describe in order and with as much clearness as may be possible the composition and the beauty of the whole, I say—beginning again with the front part, to which that at the back was wholly similar in the composition of the ornaments, without failing in any point—that in the centre of the wide street was seen the very broad entrance of the arch, which rose to a beautifully proportioned height, and on either side of it were seen two immense niches bordered by two similar Corinthian columns, all painted with sacred books, mitres, thuribles, chalices, and other sacerdotal instruments, in place of trophies and spoils. Above these, and above the regular cornices and friezes, which projected somewhat further outwards than those which came over the arch in the centre, but were exactly equal to them in height, was seen another cornice, as of a door or window, curving between the one column and the other in a quarter-round, which, seeming to form a separate niche, made an effect as graceful and lovely as could well be imagined. Above that last cornice, then, rose a frieze of a height and magnificence in accord with the proportions of so great a beginning, with certain great consoles, carved and overlaid with gold, which came exactly in perpendicular lines with the columns already described; and upon them rested another magnificent and very ornate cornice, with four very large candelabra likewise overlaid with gold and, like all the columns, [Pg 79] bases, capitals, cornices, architraves, and every other thing, picked out with various carvings and colours, and also standing in line with the great consoles and the columns above described. Now in the centre, springing above the said consoles, two cornices were seen rising, and little by little forming an angle, and finally uniting as a frontispiece, over which, upon a very rich and beautiful base, was seated an immense statue with a Cross in the hand, representing the most holy Christian Religion, at whose feet, one on either side of her, were seen two other similar statues which seemed to be lying upon the cornice of the above-named frontispiece, one of which, that on the right hand, with three children about her, represented Charity, and the other Hope. Then in the space, or, to speak more precisely, in the angle of the frontispiece, there was seen as the principal device of that arch the ancient Labarum with the Cross, and with the motto, IN HOC VINCES, sent to Constantine; beneath which was seen set with beautiful grace a very large escutcheon of the Medici with three Papal crowns, in keeping with the idea of Religion, for the three Pontiffs whom she has had from that house. And on the first level cornice, on either side, was seen a statue corresponding to the niche already described which came between the two columns; one of which, that on the right hand, was a most beautiful young woman in full armour, with the spear and shield, such as Minerva used to be represented in ancient times, save that in place of the head of Medusa there was seen a great red cross on her breast, which caused her to be recognized with ease as the new Order of S. Stephen, founded so devoutly by our glorious and magnanimous Duke. The other on the left hand was seen all adorned with sacerdotal and civil vestments in place of arms, and with a great cross in the hand in place of a spear; and these, towering over the whole structure in most beautiful accord with the others, made a very imposing and marvellous effect. Next, in the frieze that came between that last cornice and the architrave that rested upon the columns, where according to the order of the composition there came three compartments, were seen painted the three kinds of true religion that have been from the creation of the world down to the present day. In the first of these, which came on the right hand beneath the armed statue, was seen painted [Pg 80] that kind of religion which reigned in the time of natural law, in those few who had it true and good, although they had not a perfect knowledge of God, wherefore there was seen figured Melchizedek offering bread and wine and other fruits of the earth. Even so, in the picture on the left hand, which came in like manner beneath the statue of peaceful Religion, was seen the other religion, ordained by God through the hands of Moses, and more perfect than the first, but all so veiled with images and figures, that these did not permit the final and perfect clearness of Divine worship to be fully revealed; to signify which there were seen Moses and Aaron sacrificing the Paschal Lamb to God. But in the central picture, which came exactly beneath the large and above-described statues of Religion, Charity, and Hope, and over the principal arch, and which in proportion with the greater space was much larger, there was seen figured an altar, and upon it a Chalice with the Host, which is the true and evangelic Sacrifice; about which were seen some figures kneeling, and over it a Holy Spirit in the midst of many little Angels, who were holding in their hands a scroll in which was written, IN SPIRITU ET VERITATE; so that it appeared that they were repeating those words in song, Spiritus meaning all that concerns the sacrifice natural and corporeal, and Veritas all that appertains to the legal; which was all by way of image and figure. Beneath the whole scene was a most beautiful inscription, which, supported by two other Angels, rested on the cornice of the central arch, saying:
VERÆ RELIGIONI, QUÆ VIRTUTUM OMNIUM FUNDAMENTUM, PUBLICARUM RERUM FIRMAMENTUM, PRIVATARUM ORNAMENTUM, ET HUMANÆ TOTIUS VITÆ LUMEN CONTINET, ETRURIA SEMPER DUX ET MAGISTRA ILLIUS HABITA, ET EADEM NUNC ANTIQUA ET SUA PROPRIA LAUDE MAXIME FLORENS, LIBENTISSIME CONSECRAVIT.
But coming to the lower part, and returning to the niche which came on the right hand, between the two columns and beneath the armed Religion, and which, although in painting, by reason of the chiaroscuro appeared as if in relief; there, I say, was seen the statue of our present most pious Duke in the habit of a Knight of S. Stephen, with the cross [Pg 81] in his hand, and with the following inscription, which had the appearance of real carving, over his head and above the niche, saying:
COSMUS MEDIC. FLOREN. ET SENAR. DUX II, SACRAM D. STEPHANI MILITIAM CHRISTIANÆ PIETATIS ET BELLICÆ VIRTUTIS DOMICILIUM FUNDAVIT, ANNO MDLXI.
Even as on the base of the same niche, between the two pedestals of the columns, which were fashioned in the Corinthian proportions, there was seen painted the Taking of Damiata, achieved by the prowess of the valiant knights of Florence; as it were auguring for those his new knights similar glory and valour. And in the lunette or semi-circle which came above the two columns, there was seen his private and particular escutcheon of balls, which, by the red cross that was added to it with beautiful grace, made it clearly manifest that it was that of the Grand Master and Chief of the Order.
Now, for the public and universal satisfaction, and in order to revive the memory of those who, born in that city or that province, became illustrious for integrity of character and for sanctity of life, and founders of some revered Order, and also to kindle the minds of all beholders to imitation of their goodness and perfection, it was thought right and proper, since there had been placed on the right hand, as has been related, the statue of the Duke, founder of the holy military Order of S. Stephen, to set on the other side that of S. Giovanni Gualberto, who was likewise a knight of the household, according to the custom of those times, and the first founder and father of the Order of Vallombrosa. Most fittingly, even as the Duke was beneath the armed statue, in like manner he was seen standing beneath the sacerdotal statue of Religion, in the habit of a knight, pardoning his enemy; having in the frontispiece over the niche a similar escutcheon of the Medici, with three Cardinal's hats, and on the base the story of the miracle that took place at Badia di Settimo, when the friar, by the command of the above-named S. Giovanni Gualberto, to the confusion of the heretics and simonists, passed with his benediction and with a cross in his hand through the midst of a raging [Pg 82] fire; with the inscription likewise in a little tablet above him, which made all that manifest, saying:
JOANNES GUALBERTUS, EQUES NOBILISS. FLOREN., VALLIS UMBROSÆ FAMILIÆ AUCTOR FUIT, ANNO MLXI.
With which was terminated that most ornate and beautiful principal façade.
Entering beneath the arch, one saw there a passing spacious loggia, or passage, or vestibule, whichever we may choose to call it; and in exactly the same manner were seen formed the three other entrances, which, being joined together at the intersection of the two streets, left in the centre a space about eight braccia square. There the four arches rose to the height of those without, and the pendentives curved in the manner of a vault as if a little cupola were to spring over them; but when these had reached the cornice curving right round, at the point where the vault of the cupola would have had to begin to rise, there sprang a gallery of gilded balusters, above which was seen a choir of most beautiful Angels, dancing most gracefully in a ring and singing in sweetest harmony; while for greater grace, and to the end that there might be light everywhere beneath the arch, in place of a cupola there was left the free and open sky. And in the spaces or spandrels, whichever they may be called, of the four angles, which of necessity, narrow at their springing, opened out as they rose nearer to the cornice in accordance with the curve of the arch, were painted with no less grace in four rounds the four beasts mystically imagined by Ezekiel and by John the Divine for the four writers of the holy Evangel. But to return to the first of those four loggie or vestibules, as we have called them; the vaults there were seen distributed with very graceful and lovely divisions, and all adorned and painted with various little scenes and with the arms and devices of those religious Orders which were above or beside them, and in whose service, principally, they were there. Thus on the façade of that first one on the right hand, which was joined to the Duke's niche, there was seen painted in a spacious picture the same Duke giving the habit to his knights, with those observances and ceremonies that are customary with them; in the most distant part, which represented Pisa, [Pg 83] could be perceived the noble building of their palace, church, and hospital, and on the base, in an inscription for the explanation of the scene, could be read these words:
COSMUS MED. FLOR. ET SENAR. DUX II, EQUITIBUS SUIS DIVINO CONSILIO CREATIS MAGNIFICE PIEQUE INSIGNIA ET SEDEM PRÆBET LARGEQUE REBUS OMNIBUS INSTRUIT.
Even as in the other on the opposite side, attached to the niche of S. Giovanni Gualberto, was seen how that same Saint founded his first and principal monastery in the midst of the wildest forests; with an inscription likewise on the base, which said:
S. JO. GUALBERTUS IN VALLOMBROSIANO MONTE, AB INTERVENTORIBUS ET ILLECEBRIS OMNIBUS REMOTO LOCO, DOMICILIUM PONIT SACRIS SUIS SODALIBUS.
Now, having despatched the front façade, and passing to that at the back, and describing it in the same manner, the less to hinder a clear understanding, we shall say, as has also been said before, that in height, in size, in the compartments, in the columns, and, finally, in every other ornament, it corresponded completely to that already described, save that whereas the first had on the highest summit in the centre the three great statues described above, Religion, Charity, and Hope, the other had in place of these only a most beautiful altar all composed and adorned after the ancient use, upon which, even as one reads of Vesta, was seen burning a very bright flame. On the right hand, towards S. Giovanni, there was seen standing a great statue in becoming vestments and gazing intently on Heaven, representing the Contemplative Life, which came exactly in a perpendicular line over the great niche between the two columns, as has been described in the other façade; and on the other side another great statue like it, but very active, with the arms bare and with the head crowned with flowers, representing the Active Life; in which statues were comprised very fittingly all the qualities that appertain to the Christian Religion. In the frieze between the one cornice and the other, which corresponded to that of the other part, and which was likewise divided into three compartments, there were seen in the largest, [Pg 84] which was in the centre, three men in Roman dress presenting twelve little children to some old and venerable Tuscans, to the end that these, being instructed by them in their religion, might demonstrate in what repute the Tuscan religion was held in ancient times among the Romans and all other nations: with a motto to explain this, taken from that perfect law of Cicero, which said: ETRURIA PRINCIPES DISCIPLINAM DOCETO. Beneath which was the inscription, similar and corresponding to that already given from the other façade, which said:
FRUGIBUS INVENTIS DOCTÆ CELEBRANTUR ATHENÆ,
ROMA FEROX ARMIS IMPERIOQUE POTENS.
AT NOSTRA HÆC MITIS PROVINCIA ETRURIA RITU
DIVINO ET CULTU NOBILIORE DEI,
UNAM QUAM PERHIBENT ARTES TENUISSE PIANDI
NUMINIS, ET RITUS EDOCUISSE SACROS;
NUNC EADEM SEDES VERÆ EST PIETATIS, ET ILLI
HOS NUMQUAM TITULOS AUFERET ULLA DIES.
In one of the two smaller pictures, that which came on the right hand, since it is thought that the ancient religion of the Gentiles (which not without reason was placed on the west) is divided into two parts, and consists, above all, of augury and sacrifice, there was seen painted according to that use an ancient priest who with marvellous solicitude was standing all intent on considering the entrails of the animals sacrificed, which were placed before him in a great basin by the ministers of the sacrifice; and in the other picture an augur like him with the crooked lituus in the hand, drawing in the sky the regions proper for taking auguries from certain birds that were shown flying above.
Now, descending lower, and coming to the niches; in that, I say, which was on the right hand, was seen S. Romualdo, who in this our country, a land set apart, as it were, by Nature for religion and sanctity, founded on the wild Apennine mountains the holy Hermitage of Camaldoli, whence that Order had its origin and name; with the inscription over the niche, which said:
ROMUALDUS IN HAC NOSTRA PLENA SANCTITATIS TERRA, CAMALDULENSIUM ORDINEM COLLOCAVIT ANNO MXII.
[Pg 85] And on the base the story of the sleeping hermit who saw in a dream the staircase similar to that of Jacob, which, passing beyond the clouds, ascended even to Heaven. On the façade which was joined to the niche, and which passed, as was said of the other, under the vestibule, was seen painted the building of the above-named hermitage in that wild place, carried out with marvellous care and magnificence; with the inscription, which in explanation said:
SANCTUS ROMUALDUS IN CAMALDULENSI SYLVESTRI LOCO, DIVINITUS SIBI OSTENSO ET DIVINÆ CONTEMPLATIONI APTISSIMO, SUO GRAVISSIMO COLLEGIO SEDES QUIETISSIMAS EXTRUIT.
In the niche on the left hand was seen the Blessed Filippo Benizi, one of our citizens, who was little less than the founder of the Servite Order, and without a doubt its first ordinator; and he, although he was accompanied by seven other noble Florentines, the one niche not being large enough to contain them all, was placed therein alone, as the most worthy; with the inscription above, which said:
PHILIPPUS BENITIUS CIVIS NOSTER INSTITUIT ET REBUS OMNIBUS ORNAVIT SERVORUM FAMILIAM, ANNO MCCLXXXV.
With the story of the Annunciation, likewise, on the base, wherein was the Virgin supported by many little Angels, with one among them who was shown scattering a beautiful vase of flowers over a vast multitude that stood there in supplication; representing the innumerable graces that are seen bestowed daily by her intercession on the faithful who with devout zeal commend themselves to her. In the other scene, in the great picture that came in the passage below, were the same S. Filippo and the seven above-mentioned noble citizens throwing off the civil habit of Florence and assuming that of the Servite Order, and shown all occupied with directing the building of their beautiful monastery, which is now to be seen in Florence, but was then without the city, and the venerable and most ornate Church of the Annunziata, so celebrated throughout the whole world for innumerable miracles, which has been ever since the head of that Order; with the inscription, which said:
SEPTEM NOBILES CIVES NOSTRI IN SACELLO NOSTRÆ URBIS, TOTO NUNC ORBE RELIGIONIS ET SANCTITATIS FAMA CLARISSIMO, SE TOTOS RELIGIONI DEDUNT ET SEMINA JACIUNT ORDINIS SERVORUM D. MARIÆ VIRG.
[Pg 86] There remain the two façades which formed as it were arms, as has been told, to the straight limb of the cross. These were smaller than those already described, which was caused by the narrowness of the two streets that begin there; wherefore, since less space came to be left for the magnificence of the work, in order consequently not to depart from the due proportion of height in their much smaller size, with much judgment the arch which gave passage there had on either side not a niche but a single column; over which rose a frieze in due proportion, in the centre of which was a painted picture that crowned the ornamentation of that façade, but not without an infinity of such other embellishments, devices, and pictures as were thought to be proper in such a place. Now, that whole structure being dedicated to the glory and power of the true Religion and to the memory of her glorious victories, they chose the two most noble and most important victories, won over two most powerful and particular adversaries, human wisdom namely, under which are comprised philosophers and heretics, and worldly power: and on the part facing towards the Archbishop's Palace was seen depicted how S. Peter and S. Paul and the other Apostles, filled with the divine spirit, disputed with a great number of philosophers and many others full of human wisdom, some of whom, those most confused, were seen throwing away or tearing up the books that they held in their hands, and others, such as Dionysius the Areopagite, Justinus, Pantænus, and the like, were coming towards them, all humble and devout, in token of having recognized and accepted the Evangelic truth; with the motto in explanation of this, which said: NON EST SAPIENTIA, NON EST PRUDENTIA. In the other scene towards the Archbishop's Palace, on the other side from the first, were seen the same S. Peter and S. Paul and the others in the presence of Nero and many of his armed satellites, boldly and freely preaching the truth of the Evangel; with the motto—NON EST FORTITUDO, NON EST POTENTIA, referring to that which follows in Solomon, whence the motto is taken—CONTRA DOMINUM. Of the façades which came under the two vaults of those two arches, in one, on the side towards the Archbishop's Palace, was seen the Blessed Giovanni Colombini, an honoured citizen of Siena, making a beginning with the Company of the Ingesuati [Pg 87] by throwing off the citizen's habit on the Campo di Siena and assuming that of a miserable beggar, and giving the same habit to many who with great zeal were demanding it from him; with the inscription, which said:
ORIGO COLLEGII PAUPERUM, QUI AB JESU COGNOMEN ACCEPERUNT; CUJUS ORDINIS PRINCEPS FUIT JOANNES COLOMBINUS, DOMO SENENSIS, ANNO MCCCLI.
And in the other, on the opposite side, were seen other gentlemen, likewise of Siena, before Guido Pietramalesco, Bishop of Arezzo, to whom a commission had been given by the Pope that he should inquire into their lives; and they were all intent on making manifest to him the wish and desire that they had to create the Order of Monte Oliveto, which was seen approved by that Bishop, exhorting them to put into execution the building of that vast and most holy monastery, which they erected afterwards at Monte Oliveto in the district of Siena, and of which they were shown to have brought thither a model; with the inscription, which said:
INSTITUITUR SACER ORDO MONACORUM QUI AB OLIVETO MONTE NOMINATUR, AUCTORIBUS NOBILIBUS CIVIBUS SENENSIBUS, ANNO MCCCXIX.
On the side towards S. Lorenzo was seen the building of the most famous Oratory of La Vernia, at the expense in great part of the devout Counts Guidi, at that time lords of that country, and by the agency of the glorious S. Francis, who, moved by the solitude of the place, made his way thither, and was visited there by Our Lord the Crucified Jesus Christ and marked with the Stigmata; with the inscription that explained all this, saying:
ASPERRIMUM AGRI NOSTRI MONTEM DIVUS FRANCISCUS ELEGIT, IN QUO SUMMO ARDORE DOMINI NOSTRI SALUTAREM NECEM CONTEMPLARETUR, ISQUE NOTIS PLAGARUM IN CORPORE IPSIUS EXPRESSIS DIVINITUS CONSERVATUR.
Even as on the opposite side was seen the Celebration held in Florence of the Council under Eugenius IV, when the Greek Church, so long at discord with the Latin, was reunited with her, and the true Faith, it may [Pg 88] be said, was restored to her pristine clearness and purity; which was likewise made manifest by the inscription, saying:
NUMINE DEI OPTIMI MAX. ET SINGULARI CIVIUM NOSTRORUM RELIGIONIS STUDIO, ELIGITUR URBS NOSTRA IN QUA GRÆCIA, AMPLISSIMUM MEMBRUM A CHRISTIANA PIETATE DISJUNCTUM, RELIQUO ECCLESIÆ CORPORI CONJUNGERETUR.
As for the Cathedral Church, the central Duomo of the city, although it is in itself stupendous and most ornate, nevertheless, since the new Lady was to halt there, met by all the clergy, as she did, it was thought well to embellish it with all possible pomp and show of religion, and with lights, festoons, shields, and a vast and very well distributed quantity of banners. At the principal door, in particular, there was made in the Ionic Order of composition a marvellous and most graceful ornament, in which, in addition to the rest, which was in truth excellently well conceived, rich and rare beyond all else appeared ten little stories of the actions of the glorious Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, executed in low-relief, which, since they were judged by all who saw them to be of admirable artistry, it is hoped that some day they may be seen in bronze in competition with the marvellous and stupendous gates of the Temple of S. Giovanni, and even, as in a more favoured age, more pleasing and more beautiful; but at that time, although of clay, they were seen all overlaid with gold, and were let in a graceful pattern of compartments into the wooden door, which likewise had the appearance of gold. Above which, besides an immense escutcheon of the Medici with the Papal Keys and Crown, supported by Operation and Grace, were seen painted in a very beautiful canvas all the tutelary Saints of the city, who, turned towards a Madonna and the Child that she was holding in her arms, appeared to be praying to her for the welfare and felicity of Florence; even as over all, as the principal device, and with most lovely invention, was seen a little ship which, with the aid of a favourable wind, appeared to be speeding with full sail towards a most tranquil port, signifying that Christian actions are in need of the divine grace, but that it is also [Pg 89] necessary on our part to add to them, as not being passive, good disposition and activity. Which was likewise made clearly manifest by the motto, which said, Σὺν Θεῷ; and even more by the very short inscription that was seen beneath, saying:
CONFIRMA HOC DEUS QUOD OPERATUS ES IN NOBIS.
On the Piazza di S. Pulinari, not in connection with the tribunal that was near there, but to the end that the great space between the Duomo and the next arch might not remain empty, although the street is very beautiful, there was made with marvellous artistry and subtle invention the figure of an immense, very excellent, very fiery and well-executed horse, more than nine braccia in height, which was rearing up on the hind-legs; and upon it was seen a young hero in full armour and in aspect all filled with valour, who had just wounded to death with his spear, the butt of which was seen at his feet, a vast monster that was stretched all limp beneath his horse, and already he had laid his hand on a glittering sword, as if about to smite him again, and seemed to marvel to what straits the monster had been reduced by the first blow. That hero represented the true Herculean Virtue, which, as Dante said so well, chased through every town and banished to Hell the dissipatrix of kingdoms and republics, the mother of discord, injury, rapine, and injustice, that evil power, finally, that is commonly called Vice or Fraud, hidden under the form of a woman young and fair, but with a great scorpion's tail; and, slaying her, he seemed to have restored the city to the tranquillity and peace in which she is seen at the present day, thanks to her excellent Lords, reposing and flourishing so happily. Which was demonstrated in a manner no less masterly by the device, placed fittingly on the great base, in which, in the centre of an open temple supported by many columns, upon a sacred altar, was seen the Egyptian Ibis, which was shown tearing with the beak and with the claws some serpents that were wound round its legs; with a motto that said aptly: PRÆMIA DIGNA.
Even so, also, at the corner of the Borgo de' Greci, to the end that in the turn that was made in going towards the Dogana, the eyes might have something on which to feast with delight, it was thought well to form a little closed arch of Doric architecture, dedicating it to Public Merriment; which was demonstrated by the statue of a woman crowned with a garland and all joyous and smiling, which was in the principal place, with a motto in explanation, saying: HILARITAS P.P. FLORENT. Below her, in the midst of many grotesques and many graceful little stories of Bacchus, were seen two most charming little Satyrs, which with two skins that they held on their shoulders were pouring into a very beautiful fountain, as was done in the other, white and red wine; and as in the other the fish, so in this one two swans that were under the boys, played a trick on him who drank too much by means of jets of water that at times spurted with force from the vase; with a graceful motto that said: ABITE LYMPHÆ VINI PERNICIES. Above and around the large statue were seen many others, both Satyrs and Bacchanals, who, shown in a thousand pleasing ways drinking, dancing, singing, and playing all those pranks that the drunken are wont to play, seemed as if chanting the motto written above them:
NUNC EST BIBENDUM, NUNC PEDE LIBERO PULSANDA TELLUS.
It appeared, among the many prerogatives, excellences, and graces with which fair Florence adorned herself, distributing them over various places, as has been shown, to receive and accompany her illustrious Princess, it appeared, I say, that the sole sovereign and head of them all, Civil Virtue or Prudence, queen and mistress of the art of ruling and governing well peoples and states, had been passed over up to this point without receiving any attention; as to which Prudence, although to the great praise and glory of Florence it could be demonstrated amply in many of her children in past times, nevertheless, having at the present [Pg 91] time in her most excellent Lords the most recent, the most true, and without a doubt the most splendid example that has ever been seen in her up to our own day, it was thought that their magnanimous actions were best fitted to express and demonstrate that virtue. And with what good reason, and how clearly without any taint of adulation, but only by the grateful minds of the best citizens, this honour was paid to them, anyone who is not possessed by blind envy (by whose venomous bite whoever has ruled at any time has always been molested), may judge with ease, looking not only at the pure and upright government of their happily adventuresome State and at its preservation among difficulties, but also at its memorable, ample, and glorious increase, brought about certainly not less by the infinite fortitude, constancy, patience, and vigilance of its most prudent Duke, than by the benign favour of prosperous Fortune. All which came to be expressed excellently well in the inscription set with most beautiful grace in a fitting place, embracing the whole conception of the whole ornament, and saying:
REBUS URBANIS CONSTITUTIS, FINIB. IMPERII PROPAGATIS, RE MILITARI ORNATA, PACE UBIQUE PARTA, CIVITATIS IMPERIIQUE DIGNITATE AUCTA, MEMOR TANTORUM BENEFICIORUM PATRIA PRUDENTIÆ DUCIS OPT. DEDICAVIT.
At the entrance of the public and ducal Piazza, then, and attached on one side to the public and ducal Palace, and on the other to those buildings in which salt is distributed to the people, there was dedicated well and fittingly to that same Civil Virtue or Prudence an arch marvellous and grand beyond all the others, similar and conforming in every part, although more lofty and more magnificent, to that of Religion already described, which was placed on the Canto alla Paglia. In that arch, above four vast Corinthian columns, in the midst of which space was left for the procession to pass, and above the usual architrave, cornice, and frieze of projections—as was said of the other—divided into three compartments, and upon a second great cornice that crowned the whole work, there was seen in grave and heroic majesty, seated in the semblance of a Queen with a sceptre in the right hand and resting the left on a great globe, an immense woman adorned with a royal crown, who could be [Pg 92] recognized with ease as being that Civil Virtue. There remained below, between one column and another, as much space as accommodated without difficulty a deep and spacious niche, in each of which was demonstrated very aptly of what other virtues that Civil Virtue is composed; and, rightly giving the first place to the military virtues, there was seen in the niche on the right hand, with heroic and most beautiful composition, the statue of Fortitude, the first principle of all magnanimous and generous actions, even as on the left hand in like manner was seen placed that of Constancy, who best guides and executes them. And since between the frontispieces of the two niches and the cornice that went right round there was left some space, to the end that the whole might be adorned, there were counterfeited there two rounds in the colour of bronze, in one of which was depicted with a fine fleet of galleys and other ships the diligence and solicitude of our most shrewd Duke in maritime affairs, and in the other, as is often found in ancient medals, was seen the same Duke going around on horseback to visit his fortunate States and to provide for their wants. Next, over the crowning cornice, where, as has been told, the masterly statue of Civil Prudence was seated, continuing to show of what parts she is composed, and exactly in a line with the Fortitude already described, and separated from her by some magnificent vases, was seen Vigilance, so necessary in every human action; even as above Constancy was seen in like manner Patience, and I do not speak of that patience to which meek minds, tolerating injuries, have given the name of virtue, but of that which won so much honour for the ancient Fabius Maximus, and which, awaiting opportune moments with prudence and mature reflection, and void of all rash vehemence, executes every action with reason and advantage. In the three pictures, then, into which, as was said, the frieze was divided, and which were separated by medallions and pilasters that sprang in a line with the columns and extended with supreme beauty as far as the great cornice; in that in the centre, which came above the portal of the arch and beneath the Sovereign Prudence, was seen painted the generous Duke with prudent and loving counsel handing over to the worthy Prince the whole government of his spacious States, which was expressed by a sceptre upon a stork, which [Pg 93] he was shown offering to his son, and it was being accepted with great reverence by the obedient Prince; with a motto that said: REGET PATRIIS VIRTUTIBUS. Even as in that on the right hand was seen the same most valiant Duke with courageous resolution sending forth his people, and the first fort of Siena occupied by them—no slight cause, probably, of their victory in that war. And in that on the left hand, in like manner, was painted his joyful entry into that most noble city after the winning of the victory. But behind the great statue of Sovereign Prudence—and in this alone was that front part dissimilar to the Arch of Religion—was seen raised on high a base beautifully twined with cartouches and square, although at the foot, not without infinite grace, it was something wider than at the top; upon which, reviving the ancient use, was seen a most beautiful triumphal chariot drawn by four marvellous coursers, not inferior, perchance, to any of the ancient in beauty and grandeur. In that chariot was seen held suspended in the air by two lovely little Angels the principal crown of the arch, composed of civic oak, and, in the likeness of that of the first Augustus, attached to two tails of Capricorns; with the same motto that was once used with it by him, saying: OB CIVES SERVATOS. And in the spaces that remained between the pictures, statues, columns, and niches, all was filled up with richness and grace by an infinite wealth of Victories, Anchors, Tortoises with the Sail, Diamonds, Capricorns, and other suchlike devices of those magnanimous Lords.
Now, passing to the part at the back, facing towards the Piazza, which we must describe as being in every way similar to the front, excepting that in place of the statue of Sovereign Prudence, there was seen in a large oval corresponding to the great pedestal that supported the great chariot described above, which, with ingenious artifice, after the passing of the procession, was turned in a moment towards the Piazza; there was seen, I say, as the principal device of the arch, a celestial Capricorn with its stars, which was shown holding with the paws a royal sceptre with an eye at the top, such as it is said that the ancient and most just Osiris used once to carry, with the ancient motto about it, saying: NULLUM NUMEN ABEST; as if adding, as the first author said: SI SIT PRUDENTIA. [Pg 94] In the lower part, we have to relate as a beginning—because that façade was made to represent the actions of peace, which are perhaps no less necessary to the human race—that in the niche on the right hand, as with those of the other façade already described, there was seen placed a statue of a woman, representing Reward or Remuneration, and called Grace, such as wise Princes are wont to confer for meritorious works upon men of excellence and worth, even as on the left hand, in a threatening aspect, with a sword in the hand, in the figure of Nemesis, was seen Punishment, for the vicious and criminal; with which figures were comprised the two principal pillars of Justice, without both which no State ever had stability or firmness, or was anything but imperfect and maimed. In the two ovals, then, always corresponding to those of the other façade, and like them also counterfeited in bronze, in one were seen the fortifications executed with much forethought in many places by the prudent Duke, and in the other his marvellous care and diligence in achieving the common peace of Italy, as has been seen in many of his actions, but particularly at that moment when by his agency was extinguished the terrible and so dangerous conflagration fanned with little prudence by one who should rather have assured the public welfare of the Christian people; which was represented by various Fetiales, altars, and other suchlike instruments of peace, and by the words customary in medals placed over them, saying: PAX AUGUSTA. Over these, and over the two above-described statues of the niches, similar to those of the other side, were seen on the right hand Facility and on the left Temperance or Goodness, as we would rather call her; signifying by the first an external courtesy and affability in deigning to listen and hearken and answer graciously to everyone, which keeps the people marvellously well contented, and by the other that temperate and benign nature which renders the Prince amiable and loving with his confidants and intimates, and with his subjects easy and gracious. In the frieze, corresponding to that of the front part, and like it divided into three pictures, was likewise seen in that of the centre, as the thing of most importance, the conclusion of the happy marriage contracted between the most illustrious Prince and the most serene Queen Joanna of Austria, with so [Pg 95] much satisfaction and benefit to his fortunate people, and bringing peace and repose to everyone; with a motto saying: FAUSTO CUM SIDERE. Even as in another, on the right hand, was seen the loving Duke holding by the hand the excellent Duchess Leonora, his consort, a woman of virile and admirable worth and wisdom, with whom while she was alive he was joined by such a love, that they could well be called the bright mirror of conjugal fidelity. On the left hand was seen the same gracious Duke listening with marvellous courtesy, as he has been wont always to do, to many who were shown seeking to speak with him. And such was all that part which faced towards the Piazza.
Beneath the spacious arch and within the wide passage through which the procession passed, on one of the walls that supported the vaulting, was seen painted the glorious Duke in the midst of many venerable old men, with whom he was taking counsel, and he appeared to be giving to many various laws and statutes written on divers sheets, signifying the innumerable laws so wisely amended or newly decreed by him; with the motto: LEGIBUS EMENDES. Even as in the other, demonstrating his most useful resolve to set in order and increase his valorous militia, was seen the same valiant Duke standing upon a military tribune and engaged in addressing a great multitude of soldiers who stood around him, as we see in many ancient medals; with a motto above him that said: ARMIS TUTERIS. And so on the great vault, which was divided into six compartments, there was seen in each of these, in place of the rosettes that are generally put there, a device, or, to speak more correctly, the reverse of a medal in keeping with the two above-described scenes of the walls. In one of these were painted various curule chairs with various consular fasces, and in another a woman with the balance, representing Equity; these two being intended to signify that just laws must always unite with the severity of the supreme power the equity of the discerning judge. The next two were concerned with military life, demonstrating the virtues of soldiers and the fidelity incumbent on them; for the first of these things there was seen painted a woman armed in the ancient fashion, and for the other many soldiers who, laying one hand upon an altar, were shown presenting the other to their captain. In [Pg 96] the two that remained, representing the just and desired fruits of all these fatigues, namely, Victory, the whole was seen fully expressed, as is customary, by the figures of two women, one standing in one of the pictures upon a great chariot, and the other in the other picture upon a great ship's beak; and both were seen holding in one of the hands a branch of glorious palm, and in the other a verdant crown of triumphal laurel. And in the encircling frieze that ran right round the vaulting, the front and the back, there followed the third part of the motto already begun, saying: MORIBUS ORNES.
Next, all the most noble magistrates of the city, distributing themselves one by one over the whole circuit of the great Piazza, each with his customary devices and with very rich tapestries divided evenly by most graceful pilasters, had rendered it all magnificently imposing and ornate; and there in those days great care and diligence were devoted to hastening the erecting in its place, at the beginning of the Ringhiera, of that Giant in the finest white marble, so marvellous and so stupendous in grandeur, in beauty, and in every part, which is still to be seen there at the present day; although it had been ordained as a permanent and enduring ornament. That Giant is known by the trident that he has in the hand, by the crown of pine, and by the Tritons that are at his feet, sounding their trumpets, to be Neptune, God of the sea; and, riding in a graceful car adorned with various products of the sea and two ascendant Signs, Capricorn for the Duke and Aries for the Prince, and drawn by four Sea-horses, he appears in the guise of a benign protector to be promising tranquillity, felicity, and victory in the affairs of the sea. At the foot of this, in order to establish it more securely and more richly, there was made at that time in a no less beautiful manner an immense and most lovely octagonal fountain, gracefully supported by some Satyrs, who, holding in their hands little baskets of various wild fruits and prickly shells of chestnuts, and divided by some little scenes in low-relief and by some festoons in which were interspersed sea-shells, crabs, and other [Pg 97] suchlike things, seemed as they danced to be expressing great joy in their new Lady; even as with no less joy and no less grace there were seen lying on the sides of the four principal faces of the fountain, likewise with certain great shells in their hands and with some children in their arms, two nude women and two most beautiful youths, who in a certain gracious attitude, as if they were on the sea-shore, appeared to be playing and sporting gracefully with some dolphins that were there, likewise in low-relief.
Now, having caused the serene Princess to be received, as has been told in the beginning of this description, by Florence, accompanied by the followers of Mars, of the Muses, of Ceres, of Industry, and of Tuscan Poetry and Design, and then triumphant Austria by Tuscany, and the Drava by Arno, and Ocean by the Tyrrhenian Sea, with Hymen promising her happy and prosperous nuptials, and the parental meeting of her august and glorious Emperors with the illustrious Medici, and then all passing through the Arch of Sacrosanct Religion and fulfilling and accomplishing their vows at the Cathedral Church, and having seen Heroic Virtue in triumph over Vice, and with what public rejoicing her entry was celebrated by Civil Virtue, and how, finally, she was welcomed by the magistrates of the city, with Neptune promising her a tranquil sea, it was determined judiciously to bring her at the last into the port of peaceful Security, who was seen figured over the door of the Ducal Palace, in a place marvellously appropriate, in the form of a very tall, most beautiful, and most joyous woman crowned with laurel and olive, who was shown seated in an easy attitude upon a stable pedestal and leaning against a great column; demonstrating by means of her the desired end of all human affairs, deservedly acquired for Florence, and in consequence for the happy bride, by the sciences, arts, and virtues of which we have spoken above, but particularly by her most prudent and most fortunate Lords, who had prepared to receive and accommodate her there as in a place secure beyond all others, wherein she might enjoy unceasingly in glory and splendour the benefits human and divine displayed before her [Pg 98] in the ornaments that she had passed; which was explained very aptly both by the inscription that came with most beautiful grace over the door, saying:
INGREDERE OPTIMIS AUSPICIIS FORTUNATAS ÆDES TUAS AUGUSTA VIRGO, ET PRÆSTANTISSIMI SPONSI AMORE, CLARISS. DUCIS SAPIENTIA, CUM BONIS OMNIBUS DELICIISQUE SUMMA ANIMI SECURITATE DIU FELIX ET LÆTA PERFRUERE, ET DIVINÆ TUÆ VIRTUTIS, SUAVITATIS, FECUNDITATIS FRUCTIBUS PUBLICAM HILARITATEM CONFIRMA.
And also by the principal device, which was seen painted in a great oval in the highest part, over the statue of Security already described; and this was the military Eagle of the Roman Legions upon a laureate staff, which was shown to have been planted firmly in the earth by the hand of the standard-bearer; with the motto of such happy augury from Livy, from whom the whole device is taken, saying: HIC MANEBIMUS OPTUME. The ornament of the door, which was attached to the wall, was contrived in such a manner, and conceived so well, that it would serve excellently well if at any time, in order to adorn the simple but magnificent roughness of past ages, it were determined to build it in marble or some other finer stone as more stable and enduring, and more in keeping with our more cultured age. Beginning with the lowest part, I say, upon two great pedestals that rested on the level of the ground and stood one on either side of the true door of the Palace, were seen two immense captives, one male, representing Fury, and one female, with vipers and horned snakes for hair, representing Discord, his companion; which, as it were vanquished, subjugated, and bound with chains, and held down by the Ionic capital and by the architrave, frieze, and cornice that pressed upon them from above, seemed in a certain sort to be unable to breathe by reason of the great weight, revealing only too well in their faces, which were most beautiful in their ugliness, Anger, Rage, Venom, Violence, and Fraud, their peculiar and natural passions. Above that cornice was seen formed a frontispiece, in which was placed a very rich and very large escutcheon of the Duke, bordered by the usual Fleece, with the Ducal Mazzocchio supported by two very beautiful boys. And lest this single ornament, which exactly covered the jambs of the true door, might [Pg 99] have a poor effect in so great a palace, it was thought right to place on either side of it four half-columns set two on one side and two on the other, which, coming to the same height, and furnished with the same cornice and architrave, should form a quarter-round which the other frontispiece, pointed but rectilinear, might embrace, with its projections and with all its appurtenances set in the proper places. And above this was formed a very beautiful base, where there was seen the above-described statue of Security, set in position, as has been told, with most beautiful grace. But to return to the four half-columns below; for the sake of greater magnificence, beauty, and proportion, I say, there had been left so much space at either side, between column and column, that there was ample room for a large and beautiful picture painted there in place of a niche. In one of these, that which was placed nearest to the divine statue of the gentle David, were seen in the forms of three women, who were shown full of joy advancing to meet their desired Lady, Nature, with her towers on her head, as is customary, and with her many breasts, signifying the happy multitude of her inhabitants, and Concord with the Caduceus in her hand, even as in the third was seen figured Minerva, the inventress and mistress of the liberal arts and of civil and refined customs. In the other, which faced towards the proud statue of Hercules, was seen Amaltheia, with the usual horn of plenty, overflowing with fruits and flowers, in her arms, and at her feet the corn-measure brimming and adorned with ears of corn, signifying the abundance and fertility of the earth; there, also, was Peace crowned with flowered and fruitful olive, with a branch of the same in the hand, and finally there was seen, with an aspect grave and venerable, Majesty or Reputation; demonstrating ingeniously with all these things how in well-ordered cities, abundant in men, copious in riches, adorned by arts, filled with sciences, and illustrious in majesty and reputation, one lives happily and in peace, quietness, and contentment. Then in line with the four half-columns already described, above the cornice and frieze of each, was seen fixed in a manner no less beautiful a socle with a pedestal in proportion, upon which rested some statues; and since the two in the centre embraced also the width of the two terminals described, upon each of these were placed two statues [Pg 100] embracing one another—Virtue, namely, who was shown holding Fortune in a strait and loving embrace, with a motto on the base saying, VIRTUTEM FORTUNA SEQUETUR; as if to demonstrate that, whatever many may say, where virtue is fortune is never wanting; and upon the other Fatigue or Diligence, who in like manner was shown in the act of embracing Victory, with a motto at her feet saying: AMAT VICTORIA CURAM. And above the half-columns that were at the extremities, and upon which the pedestals were narrower, adorning each of them with a single statue, on one there was seen Eternity as she is figured by the ancients, with the heads of Janus in her hands, and with the motto, NEC FINES NEC TEMPORA; and on the other Fame figured in the usual manner, likewise with a motto saying: TERMINAT ASTRIS. Between one and the other of these, there was placed with ornate and beautiful composition, so as to have the above-named escutcheon of the Duke exactly in the middle, on the right hand that of the most excellent Prince and Princess, and on the other that which the city has been accustomed to use from ancient times.
I thought, when I first resolved to write, that it would take much less work to bring me to the end of the description given above, but the abundance of the inventions, the magnificence of the things done, and the desire to satisfy the curiosity of craftsmen, for whose particular benefit, as has been told, this description is written, have in some way, I know not how, carried me to a length which might perchance appear to some to be excessive, but which is nevertheless necessary for one who proposes to render everything distinct and clear. But now that I find myself past the first part of my labours, although I hope to treat with more brevity, and with perhaps no less pleasure for my readers, the remainder of the description of the spectacles that were held, in which, no less than the liberality of our magnanimous Lords, and no less than the lively dexterity of the ingenious inventors, there appeared rare and excellent the industry and art of the same craftsmen, yet it should not be thought a thing beside the mark or altogether unworthy of consideration, if, before [Pg 101] going any further, we say something of the aspect of the city while the festivities for the nuptials were being prepared and after they were finished, for the reason that in the city, to the infinite entertainment of all beholders, were seen many streets redecorated both within and without, the Ducal Palace (as will be described) embellished with extraordinary rapidity, the fabric of the long corridor (which leads from that Palace to that of the Pitti) flying, as it were, with wings, the column, the fountain, and all the arches described above springing in a certain sense out of the ground, and all the other festive preparations in progress, but in particular the comedy, which was to appear first, and the two grand masquerades, which had need of most labour, and, finally, all the other things being prepared according to the time at which they were to be represented, some quickly and others more slowly; the two Lords, Duke and Prince, after the manner of the ancient Ædiles, having distributed them between themselves, and having undertaken to execute each his part in generous emulation. Nor was less solicitude or less rivalry seen among the gentlemen and ladies of the city, and among the strangers, of whom a vast number had flocked thither from all Italy, vying one with another in the pomp of vestments, and not less in their own than in the liveries of their attendants, male and female, in festivals private and public, and in the sumptuous banquets that were given in constant succession, now in one place and now in another; so that there could be seen at one and the same moment leisure, festivity, delight, spending, and pomp, and also commerce, industry, patience, labour, and grateful gain, with which all the craftsmen named above were filled, all working their effect in liberal measure.
Now, to come to the court of the Ducal Palace, into which one entered by the door already described; in order not to pass it by without saying anything about it, we must relate that, although it seemed dark and inconvenient, and almost incapable of receiving any kind of ornamentation, nevertheless with marvellous novelty and with incredible rapidity it was carried to that perfection of beauty and loveliness in which it may be seen by everyone at the present day. In addition to the graceful fountain of hardest porphyry that is placed in the centre, and the lovely [Pg 102] boy that pours water into it from the dolphin held in his arms, in an instant the nine columns were fluted and shaped in a most beautiful manner in the Corinthian Order, which surround the square court named above, and which support on one side the encircling loggie constructed very roughly of hard-stone, according to the custom of those times; overlaying the ground of those columns almost entirely with gold, and filling them with most graceful foliage over the flutings, and shaping their bases and capitals together according to the good ancient custom. Within the loggie, the vaults of which were all filled and adorned with most bizarre and extravagant grotesques, there were seen represented, as in many medallions made for the same purpose, some of the glorious deeds of the magnanimous Duke, which—if smaller things may be compared with greater—I have considered often in my own mind to be so similar to those of the first Octavianus Augustus, that it would be difficult to find any greater resemblance; for the reason that—not to mention that both the one and the other were born under one and the same ascendant of Capricorn, and not to mention that both were raised almost unexpectedly to the sovereignty at the same immature age, and not to speak of the most important victories gained both by the one and by the other in the first days of August, and of their having similar constitutions and natures in their private and intimate lives, and of their singular affection for their wives, save that in his children, in the election to the principality, and perhaps in many other things, I believe that our fortunate Duke might be esteemed more blessed than Augustus—is there not seen both in the one and in the other a most ardent and most extraordinary desire to build and embellish, and to contrive that others should build and embellish? Insomuch that, if the first said that he found Rome built of bricks and left her built of solid stone, the second will be able to say not less truthfully that he received Florence already of stone, indeed, ornate and beautiful, but leaves her to his successors by a great measure more ornate and more beautiful, increased and magnified by every kind of convenient, lovely, and magnificent adornment.
To represent these matters, in each lunette of the above-named loggie there was seen an oval accommodated with suitable ornaments, [Pg 103] and with singular grace; in one of which there could be seen the fortification of Porto Ferrajo in Elba, a work of such importance, with many ships and galleys that were shown lying there in safety, and the glorious building of the city in the same place, called after its founder Cosmopolis; with a motto within the oval, saying: ILVA RENASCENS; and another in the encircling scroll, which said: TUSCORUM ET LIGURUM SECURITATI. Even as in the second was seen that most useful and handsome building wherein the greater part of the most noble magistrates are to be accommodated, which is being erected by his command opposite to the Mint, and which may be seen already carried near completion; and over it stretches that long and convenient corridor of which mention has been made above, built with extraordinary rapidity in these days by order of the same Duke; likewise with a motto that said: PUBLICÆ COMMODITATI. And so, also, in the third was seen Concord, with the usual horn of plenty in the left hand, and with an ancient military ensign in the right, at whose feet a Lion and a She-Wolf, the well-known emblems of Florence and Siena, were shown lying in peaceful tranquillity; with a motto suited to the matter, and saying: ETRURIA PACATA. In the fourth was seen depicted the above-described oriental column of granite, with Justice on the summit, which under his happy sceptre may well be said to be preserved inviolate and impartial; with a motto saying: JUSTITIA VICTRIX. Even as in the fifth was seen a ferocious bull with both the horns broken, intended to signify, as has been told already of the Achelous, the straightening of the River Arno in many places, carried out with such advantage by the Duke; with the motto: IMMINUTUS CREVIT. In the sixth, then, was seen that most superb palace which was begun formerly by M. Luca Pitti with a magnificence so marvellous in a private citizen, and with truly regal spirit and grandeur, and which at the present day our most magnanimous Duke is causing with incomparable artistry and care to be not only carried to completion, but also to be increased and beautified in a glorious and marvellous manner, with architecture heroic and stupendous, and also with very large and very choice gardens full of most abundant fountains, and with a vast quantity of most noble statues, ancient and modern, which he has caused to be collected from all over [Pg 104] the world; which was explained by the motto, saying: PULCHRIORA LATENT. In the seventh, within a great door, were seen many books arranged in various manners, with a motto in the scroll, saying, PUBLICÆ UTILITATI; intended to signify the glorious solicitude shown by many of the Medici family, and particularly by our most liberal Duke, in collecting and preserving with such diligence a marvellous quantity of the rarest books in every tongue, recently placed in the beautiful Library of S. Lorenzo, which was begun by Clement VII and finished by his Excellency. Even as in the eighth, under the figure of two hands that appeared to become more firmly bound together the more they strove to undo a certain knot, there was denoted the abdication lovingly performed by him in favour of the most amiable Prince, and how difficult, or, we should rather say, how impossible it is for one who has once set himself to the government of a State, to disengage himself; which was explained by the motto, saying: EXPLICANDO IMPLICATUR. In the ninth was seen the above-described Fountain of the Piazza, with that rare statue of Neptune, and with the motto, OPTABILIOR QUO MELIOR; signifying not only the adornment of the immense statue and fountain named above, but also the profit and advantage that will accrue in a short time to the city from the waters that the Duke is constantly engaged in bringing to her. In the tenth, then, was seen the magnanimous creation of the new Order of S. Stephen, represented by the figure of the same Duke in armour, who was shown offering a sword with one hand over an altar to an armed knight, and with the other one of their crosses; with a motto saying: VICTOR VINCITUR. And in the eleventh, likewise under the figure of the same Duke, who was addressing many soldiers according to the ancient custom, there was represented the militia so well ordained and preserved by him in his valorous companies; with a motto that explained it, saying: RES MILITARIS CONSTITUTA. In the twelfth, with the sole words, MUNITA TUSCIA, and without any further representation, were demonstrated the many fortifications made by our most prudent Duke in the most important places in the State; adding in the scroll, with fine morality: SINE JUSTITIA IMMUNITA. Even as in the thirteenth, in like manner without any other representation, there could be read, SICCATIS MARITIMIS [Pg 105] PALUDIBUS; as may be seen to his infinite glory in many places, but above all in the fertile country of Pisa. And in order not to pass over completely in silence the praise due to him for having brought back and restored so gloriously to his native Florence the artillery and the ensigns lost at other times, in the fourteenth and last were seen some soldiers returning to him laden with these, all dancing and joyful; with a motto in explanation, which said: SIGNIS RECEPTIS. And then, for the satisfaction of the strangers, and particularly the many German lords who had come thither in vast numbers in honour of her Highness, with the most excellent Duke of Bavaria, the younger, her kinsman, there were seen under the above-described lunettes, beautifully distributed in compartments and depicted with all the appearance of reality, many of the principal cities of Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, the Tyrol, and the other States subject to her august brother.
Now, ascending by the most commodious staircase to the Great Hall, where the principal and most important festivities and the principal banquet of the nuptials were celebrated (forbearing to speak of the magnificent and stupendous ceiling, marvellous in the variety and multitude of the rare historical paintings, and marvellous also in the ingenuity of the inventions, in the richness of the partitions, and in the infinite quantity of gold with which the whole is seen to shine, but most marvellous in that it has been executed in an incredibly short time by the industry of a single painter; and treating of the other things pertaining only to this place), I must say that truly I do not believe that in these our parts we have any information of any other hall that is larger or more lofty; but to find one more beautiful, more rich, more ornate, or arranged with more convenience than that hall as it was seen on the day when the comedy was performed, that I believe would be absolutely impossible. For, in addition to the immense walls, on which with graceful partitions, and not without poetical invention, were seen portrayed from the reality the principal squares of the most noble cities of Tuscany, and in addition to [Pg 106] the vast and most lovely canvas painted with various animals hunted and taken in various ways, which, upheld by a great cornice, and concealing the prospect-scene, served so well as one of the end-walls, that the Great Hall appeared to have its due proportions, such, in addition, and so well arranged, were the tiers of seats that ran right round, and so lovely on that day the sight of the handsome ladies who had been invited there in great numbers from among the most beautiful, the most noble, and the richest, and of the many lords, chevaliers, and other gentlemen who had been accommodated above them and throughout the rest of the room, that without a doubt, when the fantastic lights were lit, at the fall of the canvas described above, the luminous prospect-scene being revealed, it appeared in truth as if Paradise with all the Choirs of the Angels had been thrown open at that instant; which illusion was increased marvellously by a very soft, full, and masterly concert of instruments and voices, which very soon afterwards was heard to come forth from that direction. In that prospect-scene the most distant part was made to recede most ingeniously along the line of the bridge, terminating in the end of the street that is called the Via Maggio, and in the nearest part was represented the beautiful street of S. Trinita; and when the eyes of the spectators had been allowed to sate themselves for some time with that and the many other marvellous things, the desired and welcome beginning was made with the first interlude of the comedy, which was taken, like all the others, from that touching story of Psyche and Cupid so delicately narrated by Apuleius in his Golden Ass. From it were taken the parts that appeared the most important, and these were accommodated with the greatest possible dexterity to the comedy, so that, having made, as it were, an ingenious composition from the one fable and the other, it might appear that what the Gods did in the fable of the interludes was done also by mankind in the fable of the comedy, as if constrained by a superior power. In the hollow sky of the above-named prospect-scene, which opened out all of a sudden, there was seen to appear another sky contrived with great artifice, from which was seen issuing little by little a white and very naturally counterfeited cloud, upon which, with an effect of singular beauty, a gilded and jewelled car appeared to [Pg 107] be resting, recognized as that of Venus, because it was drawn by two snow-white swans, and in it, as its mistress and guide, could be perceived likewise that most beautiful Goddess, wholly nude and crowned with roses and myrtle, seated with great majesty and holding the reins. She had in her company the three Graces, likewise recognized by their being shown wholly nude, by their blonde tresses, which fell all loose over their shoulders, and even more by the manner in which they were standing linked hand to hand; and also the four Hours, who had the wings all painted after the likeness of butterflies, and, not without reason, were distinguished in certain particulars according to the four seasons of the year. Thus one of them, who had the head and the buskins all adorned with various little flowers, and the dress of changing colours, was intended to represent the varied and flowering Spring; even as the second, with the garland and the buskins woven of pale ears of corn, and the yellow draperies wherewith she was adorned, was intended to signify the heat of Summer, and the third, representing Autumn, and all clothed in red draperies, signifying the maturity of fruits, was seen likewise all covered and adorned with those same fruits, vine-leaves, and grapes; and the fourth and last, who represented the white and snowy Winter, besides her dress of turquoise-blue all sprinkled with flakes of snow, had the hair and the buskins likewise covered with similar snow, hoar-frost, and ice. And all, as followers and handmaidens of Venus, being grouped around the car on the same cloud with singular artistry and most beautiful composition, were seen—leaving behind them Jove, Juno, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, and the other Gods, from whom appeared to be issuing the soft harmony described above—to sink gradually with most beautiful grace towards the earth, and by their coming to fill the scene and the whole hall with a thousand sweet and precious odours; while from another part, with an aspect no less gracious, but appearing to walk on earth, was seen to come the nude and winged Cupid, likewise accompanied by those four Passions that seem so often to be wont to disturb his unrestful kingdom; Hope, namely, all clothed in green, with a little flowering branch on the head; Fear, recognized, in addition to his pale garment, by the rabbits that he had on his hair and his buskins; Joy, likewise clothed in white [Pg 108] and orange and a thousand glad colours, and with a plant of flowering borage on the hair, and Sorrow, all in black and in aspect all weeping and sad; of whom, as his ministers, one carried the bow, another the quiver and the arrows, another the nets, and yet another the lighted torch. And while the above-described Hours and Graces, having descended from the cloud, went slowly towards their mother's car, now arrived on earth, and, having grouped themselves reverently in a most graceful choir around the lovely Venus, seemed all intent on singing in harmony with her, she, turning towards her son with rare and infinite grace, and making manifest to him the cause of her displeasure, when those in Heaven were silent, sang the two following stanzas, the first of the ballad, saying:
A me, che fatta son negletta e sola,
Non più gli altar nè i voti,
Ma di Psiche devoti
A lei sola si danno, ella gl' invola;
Dunque, se mai di me ti calse o cale,
Figlio, l' armi tue prendi,
E questa folle accendi
Di vilissimo amor d' uomo mortale.
Which being finished, and each of her handmaidens having returned to her own place, while they kept continually throwing down various delicate and lovely garlands of flowers upon the assembled spectators, the cloud and the car, as if the beautiful guide had satisfied her desire, were seen to move slowly and to go back towards the heaven; and when they had arrived there, and the heaven was closed again in an instant, without a single sign remaining from which one might have guessed by which part the cloud and so many other things had come forth and returned, everyone, it appeared, was left all amazed with a sort of novel and pleasing marvel. But the obedient Cupid, while that was being done, making a sign, as it were, to his mother that her command would be fulfilled, and crossing the stage, continued—with his companions, who were presenting him his arms, and who, likewise singing, kept in harmony with him—the following stanza, the last, saying:
And he, also, as he sang this, kept shooting arrows, many and various, at those listening to him, whereby he gave reason to believe that the lovers who were about to perform their parts, stung, as it were, by them, were giving birth to the comedy about to follow.
The first act being finished, and Cupid having been taken in his own snare—at the moment when he thought to take the lovely Psyche—by reason of her infinite beauty, it became necessary to represent those mysterious voices which, as may be read in the fable, had been intended by him to serve her; and so there was seen to issue by one of the four passages that had been left on the stage for the use of the performers, first a little Cupid who was carrying in his arms what seemed to be a graceful swan, with which, since it concealed an excellent bass-viol, while he appeared to be diverting himself with a wand of marsh-grass that served him as a bow, he proceeded to play most sweet airs. After him, four others were seen to come at one and the same moment by the four passages of the stage already described; by one the amorous Zephyr, all merry and smiling, who had wings, garments, and buskins woven of various flowers; by another Music, known by the tuning instrument that she had on the head, by her rich dress covered with her various instruments and with various scrolls wherein were marked all her notes and all her times, and even more because she likewise was seen playing with most sweet harmony upon a great and beautiful lyra-viol; and by the other two, also, Play and Laughter were seen to appear in the form of two little Cupids, playing and laughing. After these, while they were going on their way to their destined places, four other Cupids were seen to issue by the same passages, in the same guise, and at the same time, and to proceed likewise to play most graciously on four most ornate [Pg 110] lutes; and after them four other similar little Cupids, two of whom, with fruits in their hands, were seen playing together, and two seemed to be seeking to shoot one another in the breast with their bows and arrows, in a quaint and playful fashion. All these gathered in a graceful circle, and, singing in most harmonious concert the following madrigal, with the lutes and with many other instruments concealed within the scenery accompanying the voices, they appeared to make this whole conception manifest enough, saying:
O altero miracolo novello!
Visto l' abbiam! ma chi sia che cel creda?
Ch' amor, d' amor ribello,
Di se stesso e di Psiche oggi sia preda?
Dunque a Psiche conceda
Di beltà pur la palma e di valore
Ogn' altra bella, ancor che pel timore
Ch' ha del suo prigionier dogliosa stia;
Ma seguiam noi l' incominciata via,
Andiam Gioco, andiam Riso,
Andiam dolce armonia di Paradiso,
E facciam che i tormenti
Suoi dolci sien co' tuoi dolci concenti.
Not less festive was the third Interlude, because, as is narrated in the fable, Cupid being occupied with the love of his beautiful Psyche, and not caring any more to kindle the customary flames in the hearts of mortals, and using with others, as others with him, fraud and deceit, it was inevitable that among those same mortals, who were living without love, there should arise at the same time a thousand frauds and a thousand deceits. And therefore it was made to appear that the floor of the stage swelled up, and finally that it was changed into seven little mounds from which there were seen to issue, as things evil and hurtful, first seven Deceits, and then seven others, which could be recognized as such with ease, for the reason that not only the bust of each was all spotted, after the likeness of a leopard, and the thighs and legs like serpents, but their [Pg 111] locks were seen all composed of malicious foxes in most fantastic forms and very beautiful attitudes; and in their hands, not without laughter from the bystanders, some were holding traps, some hooks, and others guileful crooks and grapnels, under which had been concealed with singular dexterity some musical serpents, for the sake of the music that they had to make. These, expressing thus the conception described above, after they had first most sweetly sung, and then sung and played, the following madrigal, went with very beautiful order (providing material for the deceptions of the comedy) their several ways along the four above-mentioned passages of the stage:
S' amor vinto e prigion, posto in oblio
L' arco e l' ardente face,
Della madre ingannar nuovo desio
Lo punge, e s' a lui Psiche inganno face,
E se l' empia e fallace
Coppia d' invide suore inganno e froda
Sol pensa, or chi nel mondo oggi più sia
Che 'l regno a noi non dia?
D' inganni dunque goda
Ogni saggio, e se speme altra l' invita
Ben la strada ha smarrita.
Now, deceits giving rise to affronts, and affronts to dissensions and quarrels and a thousand other suchlike evils, since Cupid, by reason of the hurt received from the cruel lamp, was not able to attend to his customary office of inflaming the hearts of living mortals, in the fourth interlude, in place of the seven mounds that had been shown on the stage the time before, there were seen to appear in this one (to give material for the disturbances of the comedy) seven little abysses, from which there first came a black smoke, and then, little by little, was seen to appear Discord with an ensign in the hand, recognized, besides her arms, by the torn and varied dress and by the tresses, and with her Rage, also recognized, besides the arms, by the buskins in the form of claws, and by the bear's head in place of a helmet, from which poured a constant stream [Pg 112] of smoke and flame; and Cruelty, with the great scythe in her hand, known by the helmet in the likeness of a tiger's head and by the buskins after the manner of the feet of a crocodile; and Rapine, also, with the pruning-hook in her hand, with the bird of prey on the helmet, and with the feet in the likeness of an eagle; and Vengeance, with a bloody scimitar in the hand, and with buskins and helmet all woven of vipers; and two Anthropophagi, or Lestrigonians, as we would rather call them, who, sounding two trombones in the form of ordinary trumpets, appeared to be seeking with a certain bellicose movement (besides the sound) to excite the audience of bystanders to combat. Each of these was between two Furies, horrible companions, furnished with drums, whips of iron, and various arms, beneath which with the same dexterity had been hidden various musical instruments. The above-named Furies could be recognized by the wounds wherewith their whole persons were covered, from which were seen pouring flames of fire, by the serpents with which they were all encircled and bound, by the broken chains that hung from their legs and arms, and by the fire and smoke that issued from their hair. And all these, having sung the following madrigal all together with a certain fiery and warlike harmony, performed in the manner of combatants a novel, bold, and most extravagant Moorish dance; at the end of which, running here and there in confusion about the stage, they were seen finally to take themselves in a horrible and fearsome rout out of the sight of the spectators:
In bando itene, vili
Inganni; il mondo solo ira e furore
Sent' oggi; audaci voi, spirti gentili,
Venite a dimostrar vostro valore;
Che se per la lucerna or langue amore,
Nostro convien, non che lor sia l' impero.
Su dunque ogni più fero
Cor surga; il nostro bellicoso carme
Guerra, guerra sol grida, e solo arm', arme.
Poor simple Psyche, having (as has been hinted in the last interlude) injured her beloved spouse with the torch by her rash and eager curiosity, and being abandoned by him, and having finally fallen into the hands of angry Venus, provided most convenient material for the fifth and most sorrowful interlude, accompanying the sadness of the fourth act of the comedy; for it was feigned that she was sent by that same Venus to the infernal Proserpine, whence she should never be able to return among living creatures. And so, wrapped in despair and very sad, she was seen approaching by one of the passages, accompanied by hateful Jealousy, who had an aspect all pallid and afflicted, like her other followers, and was known by the four heads and by the dress of turquoise-blue all interwoven with eyes and ears; by Envy, known likewise by the serpents that she was devouring; by Thought, Care, or Solicitude, whichever we may choose to call her, known by the raven that she had on the head, and by the vulture that was tearing her entrails; and by Scorn, or Disdain (to make it a woman's name), who could be recognized not only by the owl that she had on the head, but also by the ill-made, ill-fitting and tattered dress. When these four, beating and goading her, had made their way near the middle of the stage, in an instant the ground opened in four places with fire and smoke, and they, as if they sought to defend themselves, seized hold of four most horrible serpents that were seen without any warning to issue from below, and struck them a thousand different blows with their thorny staves, under which were concealed four little bows, until in the end, after much terror in the bystanders, it appeared that the serpents had been torn open by them; and then, striking again in the blood-stained bellies and entrails, all at once there was heard to issue—Psyche singing the while the madrigal given below—a mournful but most delicate and sweet harmony; for in the serpents were concealed with singular artifice four excellent bass-viols, which, accompanying (together with four trombones that sounded behind the stage) the single plaintive and gracious voice of Psyche, produced an effect at once so sad [Pg 114] and so sweet, that there were seen drawn from the eyes of more than one person tears that were not feigned. Which finished, and each figure having taken her serpent on her shoulders, there was seen, with no less terror among the spectators, a new and very large opening appearing in the floor, from which issued a thick and continuous stream of flame and smoke, and an awful barking was heard, and there was seen to issue from the hole the infernal Cerberus with his three heads, to whom, in accordance with the fable, Psyche was seen to throw one of the two flat cakes that she had in her hand; and shortly afterwards there was seen likewise to appear, together with various monsters, old Charon with his customary barque, into which the despairing Psyche having entered, the four tormentors described above kept her unwelcome and displeasing company.
Fuggi, speme mia, fuggi,
E fuggi per non far più mai ritorno;
Sola tu, che distruggi
Ogni mia pace, a far vienne soggiorno,
Invidia, Gelosia, Pensiero e Scorno
Meco nel cieco Inferno
Ove l' aspro martir mio viva eterno.
The sixth and last interlude was all joyous, for the reason that, the comedy being finished, there was seen to issue in an instant from the floor of the stage a verdant mound all adorned with laurels and different flowers, which, having on the summit the winged horse Pegasus, was soon recognized to be the Mount of Helicon, from which were seen descending one by one that most pleasing company of little Cupids already described, and with them Zephyr, Music, and Cupid, all joining hands, and Psyche also, all joyful and merry now that she was safe returned from Hell, and that by the prayers of her husband Cupid, at the intercession of Jove, after such mighty wrath in Venus, there had been won for her grace and pardon. With these were Pan and nine other Satyrs, with various pastoral instruments in their hands, under which other musical instruments were concealed; and all descending from the mound [Pg 115] described above, they were seen bringing with them Hymen, God of nuptials, in whose praise they sang and played, as in the following canzonets, and performed in the second a novel, most merry and most graceful dance, giving a gracious conclusion to the festival:
Dal bel monte Elicona
Ecco Imeneo che scende,
E già la face accende, e s' incorona;
Di persa s' incorona.
Odorata e soave,
Onde il mondo ogni grave cura scaccia.
Dunque e tu, Psiche, scaccia
L' aspra tua fera doglia,
E sol gioia s' accoglia entro al tuo seno.
Amor dentro al suo seno
Pur lieto albergo datti,
E con mille dolci atti ti consola.
Nè men Giove consola
Il tuo passato pianto,
Ma con riso e con canto al Ciel ti chiede.
Imeneo dunque ognun chiede,
Imeneo vago ed adorno,
Deh che lieto e chiaro giorno,
Imeneo, teco oggi riede!
Imeneo, per l' alma e diva
Sua Giovanna ogn' or si sente
Del gran Ren ciascuna riva
E non men l' Arno lucente
Pel gratioso, inclito e pio
Suo Francesco aver desio
D' Imeneo lodar si vede.
Flora lieta, Arno beato,
Arno umil, Flora cortese,
Deh qual più felice stato
Mai si vide, mai s' intese?
Fortunato almo paese,
Terra in Ciel gradita e cara,
A cui coppia così rara
Imeneo benigno diede.
[Pg 116] Lauri or dunque, olive e palme
E corone e scettri e regni
Per le due sì felici alme,
Flora, in te sol si disegni;
Tutti i vili atti ed indegni
Lungi stien; sol pace vera
E diletto e primavera
Abbia in te perpetua sede.
And all the rich vestments and all the other things, which one might think it impossible to make, were executed by the ingenious craftsmen with such dexterity, loveliness and grace, and made to appear so natural, real, and true, that it seemed that without a doubt the real action could surpass the counterfeited spectacle by but a little.
Now after this, although every square and every street, as has been told, resounded with music and song, merriment and festivity, our magnanimous Lords, distributing everything most prudently, to the end that excessive abundance might not produce excessive satiety, had ordained that one of the principal festivals should be performed on each Sunday, and for this reason, and for the greater convenience of the spectators, they had caused the sides of the most beautiful squares of S. Croce and S. Maria Novella to be furnished after the likeness of a theatre, with very strong and very capacious tribunes. And since within these there were held games, in which the young noblemen played a greater part by their exercises than did our craftsmen by attiring them, I shall treat of them briefly, saying that on one occasion there was presented therein by our most liberal Lords, with six companies of most elegant cavaliers, eight to a company, the play of the canes and the carousel, so celebrated among the Spaniards, each of the companies, which were all resplendent in cloth of gold and silver, being distinguished from the rest, one in the ancient habit of the Castilians, another in the Portuguese, another in the Moorish, a fourth in the Hungarian, a fifth in the Greek, and the last in the Tartar; and finally, after a perilous combat, partly with assegais [Pg 117] and horses likewise in the Spanish manner, and partly with men on foot and dogs, some most ferocious bulls were killed. Another time, renewing the ancient pomp of the Roman chase, there was seen a beautifully ordered spectacle of certain elegant huntsmen and a good quantity of various dogs, chasing forth from a little counterfeited wood and slaying an innumerable multitude of animals, which came out in succession one kind after another, first rabbits, hares, roebucks, foxes, porcupines, and badgers, and then stags, boars, and bears, and even some savage horses all burning with love; and in the end, as the most noble and most superb chase of all, after they had sought several times by means of an immense turtle and a vast and most hideous mask of a monster, which were full of men and were made to move hither and thither with various wheels, to incite a most fierce lion to do battle with a very valiant bull; finally, since that could not be achieved, both the animals were seen struck down and slain, not without a long and bloody struggle, by the multitude of dogs and huntsmen. Besides this, every evening the noble youth of the city exercised themselves with most elegant dexterity and valour, according to their custom, at the game of football, the peculiar and particular sport of that people, with which finally there was given on one of those Sundays one of the most agreeable and most graceful spectacles that anyone could ever behold, in very rich costumes of cloth of gold in red and green colours, with all the rules, which are many and beautiful.
But since variety seems generally to enhance the pleasure of most things, another time the illustrious Prince sought with a different show to satisfy the expectant people by means of his so much desired Triumph of Dreams. The invention of this, although, since he went to Germany to see his exalted bride and to do reverence to the most august Emperor Maximilian and to his other illustrious kinsmen, it was arranged and composed by others with great learning and diligence, may yet be said to have been born in the beginning from his most noble genius, so competent in no matter how subtle and exacting a task; and with it he who afterwards executed the work, and was the composer of the song, sought to demonstrate that moral opinion expressed by Dante when he says that innumerable errors arise among living mortals because many are set [Pg 118] to do many things for which they do not seem to have been born fitted by nature, deviating, on the other hand, from those for which, following their natural inclination, they might be very well adapted. This he also strove to demonstrate with five companies of masks led by five of those human desires that were considered by him the greatest; by Love, namely, behind whom followed the lovers; by Beauty, figured under the form of Narcissus, and followed by those who strive too much to appear beautiful; by Fame, who had as followers those too hungry for glory; by Pluto, signifying Riches, behind whom were seen those eager and greedy for them, and by Bellona, who was followed by the men enamoured of war; contriving that the sixth company, which comprised all the five described above, and to which he wished that they should all be referred, should be guided by Madness, likewise with a good number of her followers behind her, signifying that he who sinks himself too deep and against the inclination of Nature in the above-named desires, which are in truth dreams and spectres, comes in the end to be seized and bound by Madness. And then this judgment, turning, as a thing of feast and carnival, to the amorous, announces to young women that the great father Sleep is come with all his ministers and companions in order to show to them with his matutinal dreams, which are reputed as true (comprised, as has been told, in the first five companies), that all the above-named things that are done by us against Nature, are to be considered, as has been said, as dreams and spectres; and therefore, exhorting them to pursue that to which their nature inclines them, it appears that in the end he wishes, as it were, to conclude that if they feel themselves by nature inclined to be loved, they should not seek to abstain from that natural desire; nay, despising any other counsel as something vain and mad, they should dispose themselves to follow the wise, natural, and true. And then, around the Car of Sleep and the masks that were to express this conception, were accommodated and placed as ornaments those things that are judged to be in keeping with sleep and with dreams. There was seen, therefore, after two most beautiful Sirens, who, blowing two great trumpets in place of two trumpeters, preceded all the rest, and after two extravagant masks, the guides [Pg 119] of all the others, by which, mingling white, yellow, red, and black over their cloth of silver, were demonstrated the four humours of which bodies are composed, and after the bearer of a large red ensign adorned with various poppies, on which was painted a great gryphon, with three verses that encircled it, saying:
Non solo aquila è questo, e non leone,
Ma l' uno e l' altro; così 'l Sonno ancora
Ed humana e divina ha condizione.
There was seen coming, I say, as has been told above, the joyous Love, figured as is customary, and accompanied on one side by ever-verdant Hope, who had a chameleon on the head, and on the other by pallid Fear, with the head likewise adorned by a timorous deer; and he was seen followed by the lovers, his captives and slaves, dressed for the most part with infinite grace and richness in draperies of flaming gold, for the flames wherewith they are ever burning, and all girt and bound with most delicate gilded chains. After these (to avoid excessive minuteness) there was seen coming, to represent Beauty, in a graceful habit of turquoise-blue all interwoven with his own flowers, the beautiful Narcissus, likewise accompanied, as was said of Love, on one side by Youth adorned with flowers and garlands, and dressed all in white, and on the other by Proportion, adorned with draperies of turquoise-blue, and recognized by the spectators by an equilateral triangle that was upon the head. After these were seen those who seek to be esteemed for the sake of their beauty, and who appeared to be following their guide Narcissus; and they, also, were of an aspect youthful and gracious, and had the same narcissus-blooms most beautifully embroidered upon the cloth of silver wherein they were robed, with their blonde and curly locks all crowned in lovely fashion with the same flowers. And after them was seen approaching Fame, who seemed to be sounding a great trumpet that had three mouths, with a globe on her head that represented the world, and with immense wings of peacock's feathers; having in her company Glory, who had a head-dress fashioned likewise of a peacock, and Reward, who in like manner carried a crowned eagle on the head; and her followers, who were [Pg 120] divided into three companies, Emperors, Kings, and Dukes, although they were all dressed in gold with the richest embroideries and pearls, and although they all presented an aspect of singular grandeur and majesty, nevertheless were distinguished very clearly one from another by the forms of the different crowns that they wore on their heads, each in accord with his rank. Then the blind Pluto, the God (as has been told) of Riches, who followed after these with rods of gold and silver in the hands, was seen, like the others, accompanied on either side by Avarice dressed in yellow, with a she-wolf on the head, and by Rapacity robed in red draperies, who had a falcon on the head to make her known; but it would be a difficult thing to seek to describe the quantity of gold, pearls, and other precious gems, and the various kinds of draperies with which his followers were covered and adorned. And Bellona, Goddess of War, most richly robed in many parts with cloth of silver in place of arms, and crowned with a garland of verdant laurel, with all the rest of her habit composed in a thousand rich and gracious ways, was seen likewise coming after them with a large and warlike horn in the hand, and accompanied, like the others, by Terror, known by the cuckoo in the head-dress, and by Boldness, also known by the lion's head worn in place of a cap; and with her the military men in her train were seen following her in like manner with swords and iron-shod maces in their hands, and draperies of gold and silver arranged most fancifully in the likeness of armour and helmets. These and all the others in the other companies had each, to demonstrate that they represented dreams, a large, winged, and very well fashioned bat of grey cloth of silver fitted on the shoulders, and forming a sort of little mantle; which, besides the necessary significance, gave to all the companies (which, as has been shown, were all different) the necessary unity, and also grace and beauty beyond measure. And all this left in the minds of the spectators a firm belief that there had never been seen in Florence, and perhaps elsewhere, any spectacle so rich, so gracious, and so beautiful; for, in addition to all the gold, the pearls, and the other most precious gems wherewith the embroideries, which were very fine, were made, all the dresses were executed with such diligence, design, and grace, that they seemed to be [Pg 121] costumes fashioned not for masquerades, but enduring and permanent, and worthy to be used only by great Princes.
There followed Madness, the men of whose company alone, for the reason that she had to be shown not as a dream but as real in those who sought against the inclination of nature to pursue the things described above, were seen without the bat upon the shoulders; and she was dressed in various colours, but all put together most inharmoniously and without any manner of grace, while upon her dishevelled tresses, to demonstrate her disordered thoughts, were seen a pair of gilded spurs with the rowels turned upwards, and on either side of her were a Satyr and a Bacchante. Her followers, then, in the semblance of lunatics and drunkards, were seen dressed most extravagantly in cloth of gold, embroidered with varied boughs of ivy and vine-leaves with their little bunches of ripe grapes. And these and all the others in the companies already described, besides a good number of grooms, likewise very richly and ingeniously dressed according to the company wherein they were serving, had horses of different colours distributed among them, a particular colour to each company, so that one had dappled horses, another sorrel, a third black, a fourth peach-coloured, another bay, and yet another of a varied coat, according as the invention required. And to the end that the above-described masques, which were composed almost entirely of the most noble lords, might not be constrained to carry the customary torches at night, forty-eight different witches—who during the day preceded in most beautiful order all those six companies, guided by Mercury and Diana, who had each three heads to signify their three powers; being themselves also divided into six companies, and each particular company being ruled by two dishevelled and barefooted priestesses—when night came, went in due order on either side of the particular company of dreams to which they were assigned, and, with the lighted torches which they and the grooms bore, rendered it abundantly luminous and clear. These witches, besides their different faces, all old and hideous, and besides the different colours of the rich draperies wherewith they were clothed, were known in particular, and one company distinguished from another, by the animals that they had upon their heads, into the shapes [Pg 122] of which, so men say and believe, they transform themselves often by their incantations; for some had upon the cloth of silver that served as kerchief for their heads a black bird, with wings and claws outspread, and with two little phials about the head, signifying their maleficent distillations; and some had cats, others black and white dogs, and others, by their false blonde tresses and by the natural white hair that could be seen, as it were against their will, beneath them, betrayed their vain desire to appear young and beautiful to their lovers.
The immense car, drawn by six large and shaggy bears crowned with poppies, which came at the end after all that lovely train, was without a doubt the richest, the most imposing, and the most masterly in execution that has ever been seen for a long time back. That car was guided by Silence, a figure adorned with grey draperies and with the customary shoes of felt upon the feet, who, placing a finger on the mouth, appeared to be making sign to the spectators that they should be silent; and with him were three women, representing Quiet, plump and full in countenance, and dressed in rich robes of azure-blue, and each with a tortoise upon the head, who appeared to be seeking to assist that same Silence to guide those bears. The car itself, resting upon a graceful hexagonal platform, was shaped in the form of a vast head of an elephant, within which, also, there was represented as the house of Sleep a fantastic cavern, wherein the great father Sleep was likewise seen lying at his ease, fat and ruddy, and partly nude, with a garland of poppies, and with his cheek resting upon one of his arms; having about him Morpheus, Icelus, Phantasus, and his other sons, figured in various extravagant and bizarre forms. At the summit of the same cavern was seen the white, luminous, and beautiful Dawn, with her blonde tresses all soft and moist with dew; and at the foot of the cavern, with a badger that served her for a pillow, was dark Night, who, being held to be the mother of true dreams, was thought likely to lend no little faith to the words of the dreams described above. For the adornment of the car, then, were seen some most lovely little stories, accommodated to the invention and distributed with so much diligence, delicacy, and grace, that it appeared impossible for anything more to be desired. In the first of [Pg 123] these was seen Bacchus, the father of Sleep, upon a car wreathed in vine-leaves and drawn by two spotted tigers, with a verse to make him known, which said:
Bacco, del Sonno sei tu vero padre.
Even as in another was seen Ceres, the mother of the same Sleep, crowned with the customary ears of corn, and likewise with a verse placed there for the same reason, which said:
Cerer del dolce Sonno è dolce madre.
And in a third was seen Pasithea, wife of the same Sleep, who, seeming to fly over the earth, appeared to have infused most placid sleep in the animals that were dispersed among the trees and upon the earth; likewise with her motto which made her known, saying:
Sposa del Sonno questa è Pasitea.
On the other side was seen Mercury, president of Sleep, infusing slumber in the many-eyed Argus; also with his motto, saying:
Creare il sonno può Mercurio ancora.
And there was seen, to express the nobility and divinity of the same Sleep, an ornate little temple of Æsculapius, in which many men, emaciated and infirm, sleeping, appeared to be winning back their lost health; likewise with a verse signifying this, and saying:
Rende gl' uomini sani il dolce Sonno.
Even as in another place there was seen Mercury pointing towards some Dreams that were shown flying through the air and speaking in the ears of King Latinus, who was asleep in a cave; his verse saying:
Spesso in sogno parlar lece con Dio.
Orestes, then, spurred by the Furies, was seen alone taking some rest amid such travail by the help of the Dreams, who were shown driving away those Furies with certain bunches of poppies; with his verse that said:
Fuggon pel sonno i più crudi pensieri.
[Pg 124] And there was the wretched Hecuba likewise dreaming in a vision that a lovely hind was rapt from her bosom and strangled by a fierce wolf; this being intended to signify the piteous fate that afterwards befell her hapless daughter; with a motto saying:
Quel ch' esser deve, il sogno scuopre e dice.
Even as in another place, with a verse that said:
Fanno gli Dei saper lor voglie in sogno,
there was seen Nestor appearing to Agamemnon, and revealing to him the will of almighty Jove. And in the seventh and last was depicted the ancient usage of making sacrifice, as to a revered deity, to Sleep in company with the Muses, represented by an animal sacrificed upon an altar; with a verse saying:
Fan sacrifizio al Sonno ed alle Muse.
All these little scenes were divided and upheld by various Satyrs, Bacchants, boys, and witches, and rendered pleasingly joyous and ornate by divers nocturnal animals and festoons of poppies, not without a beautiful medallion set in place of a shield in the last part of the car, wherein was seen painted the story of Endymion and the Moon; everything, as has been said, being executed with such delicacy and grace, patience and design, that it would entail too much work to seek to describe every least part with its due praise. But those of whom it has been told that they were placed as the children of Sleep in such extravagant costumes upon the above-described car, singing to the favourite airs of the city the following canzonet, seemed truly, with their soft and marvellous harmony, to be seeking to infuse a most gracious and sweet sleep in their hearers, saying:
Or che la rugiadosa
Alba la rondinella a pianger chiama,
Questi che tanto v' ama,
Sonno, gran padre nostro e dell' ombrosa
Notte figlio, pietosa
E sacra schiera noi
Di Sogni, o belle donne, mostra a voi;
[Pg 125] Perchè il folle pensiero
Uman si scorga, che seguendo fiso
Amor, Fama, Narciso
E Bellona e Ricchezza il van sentiero
La notte e il giorno intero
S' aggira, al fine insieme
Per frutto ha la Pazzia del suo bel seme.
Accorte or dunque, il vostro
Tempo miglior spendete in ciò che chiede
Natura, e non mai fede
Aggiate all' arte, che quasi aspro mostro
Cinto di perle e d' ostro
Dolce v' invita, e pure
Son le promesse Sogni e Larve scure.
By way of having yet another different spectacle, there was built with singular mastery on the vast Piazza di S. Maria Novella a most beautiful castle, with all the proper appurtenances of ramparts, cavaliers, casemates, curtains, ditches and counterditches, secret and public gates, and, finally, all those considerations that are required in good and strong fortifications; and in it was placed a good number of valorous soldiers, with one of the principal and most noble lords of the Court as their captain, a man determined on no account ever to be captured. That magnificent spectacle being divided into two days, on the first day there was seen appearing in most beautiful order from one side a fine and most ornate squadron of horsemen all in armour and in battle-array, as if about to meet real enemies in combat, and from the other side, with the aspect of a massive and well-ordered army, some companies of infantry with their baggage, waggons of munitions, and artillery, and with their pioneers and sutlers, all drawn close together, as is customary amid the dangers of real wars; these likewise having a similar lord of great experience and valour as captain, who was seen urging them on from every side, and fulfilling his office most nobly. And after the attackers had been reconnoitred several times and in various ways, with valour and artifice, by those within the castle, and various skirmishes had been fought, now [Pg 126] by the horsemen and now by the infantry, with a great roar of musketry and artillery, and charges had been delivered and received, and several ambuscades and other suchlike stratagems of war had been planned with astuteness and ingenuity; finally the defenders were seen, as if overcome by the superior force, to begin little by little to retire, and in the end it seemed that they were constrained to shut themselves up completely within the castle. But the second day, after they had, as it were during the night, constructed their platforms and gabionade and planted their artillery, there was seen to begin a most terrible bombardment, which seemed little by little to throw a part of the walls to the ground; after which, and after the explosion of a mine, which in another part, in order to keep the attention of the defenders occupied, appeared to have made a passing wide breach in the wall, the places were reconnoitred and the cavalry drew up in most beautiful battle-array, and then was seen now one company moving up, and now another, some with ladders and some without, and many valorous and terrible assaults delivered in succession and repeated several times, and ever received by the others with skill, boldness, and obstinacy, until in the end it was seen that the defenders, weary, but not vanquished, made an honourable compact with the attackers to surrender the place to them, issuing from it, with marvellous satisfaction for the spectators, in military order, with their banners unfurled, their drums, and all their usual baggage.
We read of Paulus Emilius, that first captain of his illustrious age, that he caused no less marvel by his wisdom and worth to the people of Greece and of many other nations who had assembled in Amphipolis to celebrate various most noble spectacles there after the victory that he had won, than by the circumstance that first, vanquishing Perseus and subjugating Macedonia, he had borne himself valiantly in the management of that war, which was in no small measure laborious and difficult; he having been wont to say that it is scarcely less the office of a good captain, requiring no less order and no less wisdom, to know how to prepare [Pg 127] a banquet well in time of peace, than to know how to marshal an army for a deed of arms in time of war. Wherefore if our glorious Duke, born to do everything with noble worth and grandeur, displayed the same wisdom and the same order in those spectacles, and, above all, in that one which I am about to describe, I believe that he will not take it amiss that I have been unwilling to refrain from saying that he was in every part its inventor and ordinator, and in a certain sense its executor, preparing all the various things, and then representing them, with so much order, tranquillity, wisdom, and magnificence, that among his many glorious actions this one also may be numbered to his supreme glory.
Now, yielding to him who wrote of it in those days with infinite learning, before me, and referring to that work those who may seek curiously to see how every least thing in this masquerade, which had as title the Genealogy of the Gods, was figured with the authority of excellent writers, and passing over whatever I may judge to be superfluous in this place, let me say that even as we read that some of the ancient Gods were invited to the nuptials of Peleus and Thetis in order to render them auspicious and fortunate, so to the nuptials of this new and most excellent bridal pair it appeared that there had come for the same reason not some only of these same Gods, but all, and not invited, but seeking to introduce themselves and by their own wish, the good auguring them the same felicity and contentment, and the harmful assuring them that they would do them no harm. Which conception appeared gracefully expressed in the following fashion by four madrigals that were sung at various times in the principal places by four very full choirs, even as has been told of the Triumph of Dreams; saying:
L' alta che fino al ciel fama rimbomba
Della leggiadra Sposa,
Che in questa riva erbosa
D' Arno, candida e pura, alma colomba
Oggi lieta sen vola e dolce posa,
Dalla celeste sede ha noi qui tratti,
Perchè più leggiadri atti
E bellezza più vaga e più felice
Veder già mai non lice.
[Pg 128] Nè pur la tua festosa
Vista, o Flora, e le belle alme tue dive
Traggionne alle tue rive,
Ma il lume e 'l sol della novella Sposa,
Che più che mai gioiosa
Di suo bel seggio e freno
Al gran Tosco divin corcasi in seno.
Da' bei lidi, che mai caldo nè gielo
Discolora, vegnam; nè vi crediate
Ch' altrettante beate
Schiere e sante non abbia il Mondo e il Cielo;
Ma vostro terren velo
E lor soverchio lume,
Questo e quel vi contende amico nume.
Ha quanti il Cielo, ha quanti
Iddii la Terra e l' Onda al parer vostro;
Ma Dio solo è quell' un che il sommo chiostro
Alberga in mezzo a mille Angeli santi,
A cui sol giunte avanti
Posan le pellegrine
E stanche anime al fine, al fin del giorno,
Tutto allegrando il Ciel del suo ritorno.
I believe I can affirm most surely that this masquerade—a spectacle only to be arranged by the hand of a wise, well-practised, great, and valiant Prince, and in which almost all the lords and gentlemen of the city, and many strangers, took part—was without a doubt the greatest, the most magnificent, and the most splendid which can be remembered to have been held in any place for many centuries down to our own times, for the greater part of the vestments were not only made of cloth of gold and silver and other very rich draperies, and, when the place required it, of the finest skins, but, what is more (art surpassing the materials), composed with rare and marvellous industry, invention, and loveliness; and to the end that the eyes of the spectators, as they gazed, might be able with greater satisfaction to recognize one by one which of the Gods it was intended to represent, it was thought expedient to proceed to divide them into twenty-one distinct companies, placing at the head of each company one that should be considered as the chief, and [Pg 129] causing each of these, for greater magnificence and grandeur, and because they are so figured by the ancient poets, to be drawn upon appropriate cars by their appropriate and particular animals. Now in these cars, which were beautiful, fantastic, and bizarre beyond belief, and most splendid with silver and gold, and in representing as real and natural the above-named animals that drew them, without a doubt the dexterity and excellence of the ingenious craftsmen were such, that not only they surpassed all things done up to that time both within and without the city, which at all times has had a reputation for rare mastery in such things, but they also (infinite marvel!) took away from everyone all hope of ever being able to see another thing so heroic or so lifelike. Beginning, then, with those Gods who were such that they were reputed to be the first causes and the first fathers of the others, we will proceed to describe each of the cars and of the companies that preceded them. And since the representation was of the Genealogy of the Gods, making a beginning with Demogorgon, the first father of them all, and with his car, we have to say that after a graceful, lovely, and laurel-crowned Shepherd, representing the ancient poet Hesiod, who, singing of the Gods in his Theogony, first wrote their genealogy, and who, as guide, carried in his hand a large, square, and ancient ensign, wherein were depicted in divers colours Heaven and the four Elements, and in the centre was painted a large Greek O, crossed with a serpent that had the head of a hawk; and after eight trumpeters who were gesticulating in a thousand graceful and sportive ways, representing those tibicines who, having been prevented from eating in the temple, fled in anger to Tibur, but were made drunk and put to sleep by deceit, and brought back with many privileges to Rome; beginning, I say, with Demogorgon, there was seen his car in the form of a dark and double cavern drawn by two awful dragons, and for Demogorgon was seen a figure of a pallid old man with the hair ruffled, all wrapped in mist and dark fog, lying in utter sloth and negligence in the front part of the cavern, and accompanied on one side by youthful Eternity adorned (because she never grows old) with verdant draperies, and on the other side by Chaos, who had the appearance, as it were, of a mass without any shape. Beyond that cavern, which contained the [Pg 130] three figures described, rose a graceful little mound all covered and adorned with trees and various plants, representing Mother Earth, at the back of which was seen another cavern, but darker and deeper than that already described, wherein Erebus was shown likewise lying in the guise that has been told of his father Demogorgon, and in like manner accompanied on one side by Night, the daughter of Earth, with two children in her arms, one white and the other dark, and on the other side by Æther, the child of the aforesaid Night and Erebus, who must be figured, so it appeared, as a resplendent youth with a ball of turquoise-blue in the hand. At the foot of the car, then, was seen riding Discord, who separates things confused and is therefore held by philosophers to preserve the world, and who is regarded as the first daughter of Demogorgon; and with her the three Fates, who were shown spinning various threads and then cutting them. And in the form of a youth all robed in draperies of turquoise-blue was seen Polus, who had a terrestrial globe in the hand, and over him, alluding to the fable that is related of him, many sparks appeared to have been scattered from a vase of glowing coals that was beneath him; and there was seen Python, also the son of Demogorgon, all yellow and with a mass of fire in the hand, who seemed to have come in the company of his brother Polus. After them, then, came Envy, the daughter of Erebus and Night, and with her Timidity, her brother, in the form of a pallid and trembling old man, who had the head-dress and all the other vestments made from skins of the timid deer. And after these was seen Obstinacy, who is born from the same seed, all in black, with some boughs of ivy that seemed to have taken root upon her; and with the great cube of lead that she had on the head she gave a sign of that Ignorance wherewith Obstinacy is said to be joined. She had in her company Poverty, her sister, who was seen all pale and raging, and negligently covered rather than clothed in black; and with them was Hunger, born likewise from the same father, who was seen feeding the while on roots and wild herbs. Then Complaint or Querulousness, their sister, covered with tawny draperies, and with the querulous solitary rock-thrush, which was seen to have made her nest in her head-dress, was shown walking in profound melancholy after them, having in her company [Pg 131] the sister common to them, called Infirmity, who by her meagreness and pallor, and by the garland and the little stalk of anemone that she held in her hand, made herself very well known to the spectators for what she was. And on her other side was the other sister, Old Age, with white hair and all draped in simple black vestments, who likewise had, not without reason, a stalk of cress in the hand. The Hydra and the Sphinx, daughters of Tartarus, in the guise wherein they are generally figured, were seen coming behind them in the same beautiful order; and after these, to return to the other daughters of Erebus and Night, was seen License, all nude and dishevelled, with a garland of vine-leaves on the head, and keeping the mouth open without any restraint, and in her company was Falsehood, her sister, all covered and wrapped in various draperies of various colours, with a magpie on the head for better recognition, and with a cuttle-fish in the hand. These had Thought walking on a level with them, represented as an old man, likewise all dressed in black, with an extravagant head-dress of peach-stones on the head, and showing beneath the vestments, which at times fluttered open with the wind, the breast and the whole person pricked and pierced by a thousand sharp thorns. Momus, then, the God of censure and of evil-speaking, was seen coming after them in the form of a bent and very loquacious old man; and with them, also, the boy Tages, all resplendent, although he was the son of Earth, figured in such a manner because he was the first inventor of the soothsayer's art, in token of which there was hung from his neck a lamb split down the middle, which showed a good part of the entrails. There was seen, likewise, in the form of an immense giant, the African Antæus, his brother, who, clothed in barbaric vestments, with a dart in the right hand, appeared to wish to give on that day manifest signs of his vaunted prowess. And following after him was seen Day, also the son of Erebus and Night, represented in like manner as a resplendent and joyous youth, all adorned with white draperies and crowned with ornithogal, in whose company was seen Fatigue, his sister, who, clothed in the skin of an ass, had made herself a cap from the head of the same animal, with the ears standing erect, not without laughter among the spectators; to which were added two wings of the crane, [Pg 132] and in her hands were placed also the legs of the same crane, because of the common opinion that this renders men indefatigable against all fatigue. And Jurament, born of the same parents, in the form of an old priest all terrified by an avenging Jove that he held in the hand, and bringing to conclusion the band attributed to the great father Demogorgon, was the last in their company.
And here, judging that with these deities the origins of all the other Gods had been made sufficiently manifest, the followers of the first car were brought to an end.
In a second car of more pleasing appearance, which was dedicated to the God Heaven, held by some to be the son of the above-named Æther and Day, was seen that jocund and youthful God clothed in bright-shining stars, with a crown of sapphires on the brow, and with a vase in the hand that contained a burning flame, and seated upon a ball of turquoise-blue all painted and adorned with the forty-eight celestial signs; and in that car, which was drawn by the Great and the Little Bear, the one known by the seven and the other by the twenty-one stars with which they were all dotted, there were seen painted, in order to render it ornate and rich in pomp, with a most beautiful manner and a graceful distribution, seven of the fables of that same Heaven. In the first was figured his birth—in order to demonstrate, not without reason, the other opinion that is held of it—which is said to have been from Earth; even as in the second was seen his union with the same Mother Earth, from which were born, besides many others, Cottus, Briareus, and Gyges, who, it is believed, had each a hundred hands and fifty heads; and there were born also the Cyclopes, so called from the single eye that they had on the brow. In the third was seen how he imprisoned their common children in the caverns of that same Earth, that they might never be able to see the light; even as in the fourth their Mother Earth, seeking to deliver them from such oppression, was seen exhorting them to take a rightful vengeance on their cruel father; wherefore in the fifth his genital [Pg 133] members were cut off by Saturn, when from their blood on one side it appeared that the Furies and the Giants were born, and on the other, from the foam that was shown fallen into the sea, was seen a different birth, from which sprang the beautiful Venus. In the sixth was seen expressed the anger that he showed against the Titans, because, as has been told, they had allowed his genitals to be cut off; and in the seventh and last, likewise, was seen the same God adored by the Atlantides, with temples and altars devoutly raised to him. Now at the foot of the car (as with the other already described) was seen riding the black, old, and blindfolded Atlas, who has been reputed to have supported Heaven with his stout shoulders, on which account there had been placed in his hands a great globe of turquoise-blue, dotted with stars. After him was seen walking in the graceful habit of a huntsman the young and beautiful Hyas, his son, in whose company were his seven sisters, also called Hyades, five of whom, all resplendent in gold, were seen to have each on the head a bull's head, for the reason that they are said to form an ornament to the head of the Heavenly Bull; and the two others, as being less bright in the heavens, it was thought proper to clothe in grey cloth of silver. After these followed the seven Pleiades, daughters of the same Atlas, figured as seven other similar stars; one of whom, for the reason that she shines with little light in the heavens, it was thought right and proper to adorn only with the same grey cloth, whereas the six others, because they are resplendent and very bright, were seen in front glittering and flashing with an infinite abundance of gold, but at the back they were clothed only in vestments of pure white, that being intended to signify that even as at their first appearance the bright and luminous summer seems to have its beginning, so at their departure it is seen that they leave us dark and snowy winter; which was also expressed by the head-dress, which had the front part woven of various ears of corn, even as the back appeared to be composed of snow, ice, and hoar-frost. There followed after these the old and monstrous Titan, who had with him the proud and audacious Iapetus, his son. And Prometheus, who was born of Iapetus, was seen coming after them all grave and venerable, with a little statue of clay in one of his hands, and in the other a burning torch, [Pg 134] denoting the fire that he is said to have stolen from Jove out of Heaven itself. And after him, as the last, to conclude the company of the second car, there were seen coming, with a Moorish habit and with a sacred elephant's head as a cap, likewise two of the Atlantides, who, as has been told, first adored Heaven; and, in addition, in token of the things that were used by them in their first sacrifices, there were in the hands of both, in a great bundle, the ladle, the napkin, the cleaver, and the casket of incense.
Saturn, the son of Heaven, all white and old, who was shown greedily devouring some children, had the third car, no less ornate than the last, and drawn by two great black oxen; and to enhance the beauty of that car, even as in the last there were seven fables painted, so in that one it was thought proper that five of his fables should be painted. For the first, therefore, was seen this God surprised by his wife Ops as he lay taking his pleasure of the gracious and beautiful Nymph Philyra, on which account being constrained to transform himself into a horse in order not to be recognized by her, it was shown how from that union there was born afterwards the Centaur Cheiron. Even as in the second was seen his other union with the Latin Entoria, from which sprang at one and the same birth Janus, Hymnus, Felix, and Faustus, by whom the same Saturn distributed among the human race that so useful invention of planting vines and making wine; and there was seen Janus arriving in Latium and there teaching his father's invention to the ignorant people, who, drinking intemperately of the new and most pleasing liquor, and therefore sinking little by little into a most profound sleep, when finally they awakened, thinking that they had been poisoned by him, were seen rushing impiously to stone and slay him; on which account Saturn, moved to anger, chastised them with a most horrible pestilence; but in the end it was shown how he was pacified and turned to mercy by the humble prayers of the miserable people and by the temple built by them upon the Tarpeian rock. In the third, then, was seen figured how, Saturn seeking cruelly to devour his son Jove, his shrewd wife and compassionate [Pg 135] daughters sent to him in Jove's stead the stone, which he brought up again before them, being left thereby in infinite sorrow and bitterness. Even as in the fourth was painted the same fable of which there has been an account in speaking of the above-described car of Heaven—namely, how he cut off the genitals of the above-named Heaven, from which the Giants, the Furies, and Venus had their origin. And in the last, likewise, was seen how, after he was made a prisoner by the Titans, he was liberated by his compassionate son Jove. And then, to demonstrate the belief that is held by some, that history first began to be written in the time of Saturn, there was seen figured with the authority of an approved writer a Triton blowing a sea-conch, with the double tail as it were fixed in the earth, closing the last part of the car; at the foot of which (as has been told of the others) was seen a pure maiden, representing Pudicity, adorned with green draperies and holding a white ermine in her arms, with a gilded topaz-collar about the neck. She, with the head and face covered with a yellow veil, had in her company Truth, likewise figured in the form of a most beautiful, delicate, and pure young woman, clothed only in a few white and transparent veils; and these, walking in a manner full of grace, had between them the happy Age of Gold, also figured as a pure and gracious virgin, wholly nude, and all crowned and adorned with those first fruits produced by herself from the earth. After them followed Quiet, robed in black draperies, in the aspect of a young but very grave and venerable woman, who had as head-dress a nest composed in a most masterly manner, in which was seen lying an old and featherless stork, and she walked between two black priests, who, crowned with fig-leaves, and each with a branch of the same fig in one hand, and in the other a basin containing a flat cake of flour and honey, seemed to wish to demonstrate thereby that opinion which is held by some, that Saturn was the first discoverer of grain-crops; for which reason the Cyrenæans (and even such were the two black priests) are said to have been wont to offer him sacrifices of those things named above. These were followed by two Roman priests, who appeared likewise to be about to sacrifice to him some waxen images, as it were after the more modern use, since they were seen delivered by means of the example of [Pg 136] Hercules, who used similar waxen images, from the impious custom of sacrificing men to Saturn, introduced into Italy by the Pelasgians. These, like the others with Quiet, had likewise between them the venerable Vesta, daughter of Saturn, who, very narrow in the shoulders and very broad and full in the flanks, after the manner of a round ball, and dressed in white, carried a lighted lamp in the hand. And after them, as the last, closing the third company, was seen coming the Centaur Cheiron, the son, as has been told, of Saturn, armed with sword, bow, and quiver; and with him another of the sons of the same Saturn, holding the crooked lituus (for the reason that he was an augur) in the hand, and all robed in green draperies, with a bird, the woodpecker, on the head, because into such a bird, according as the fables tell, it is believed that he was transformed by Cheiron.
To the resplendent Sun was dedicated the fourth car, all glittering, gilded, and jewelled, which, drawn according to custom by four swift and winged coursers, was seen to have Velocity, with a head-dress of a dolphin and a sail on the head, as charioteer; and in it were painted (as has been told of the others), but with a different distribution, and as pleasing and gracious as could well be imagined, seven of his fables. For the first of these was seen the fate of the too audacious Phaëthon, who contrived so ill to guide that same car, even as for the second was seen the death of the serpent Python, and for the third the chastisement inflicted on the rash Marsyas. In the fourth was seen how the Sun deigned for a time to lead a humble pastoral life, grazing the flocks of Admetus; even as in the fifth was seen how, flying from the fury of Typhœus, he was constrained to change himself into a raven. In the sixth were likewise depicted his other transformations, first into a lion and then into a hawk; and as the last was seen his love received so ill by the timid Daphne, who finally, as is very well known, was changed by the compassion of the Gods into laurel. At the foot of the car, then, were seen riding, all winged and of different ages and colours, the Hours, [Pg 137] the handmaids and ministers of the Sun, each of whom, in imitation of the Egyptians, carried a hippopotamus in the hand, and was crowned with flowers of the lupine; and behind them, likewise following the Egyptian custom, in the form of a young man all dressed in white, with two little horns on the head that were turned towards the ground, and with a garland of oriental palm, was seen walking the Month, carrying in the hand a calf which, not without reason, had only one horn. And after him was seen likewise walking the Year, with the head all covered with ice and snow, the arms wreathed in flowers and garlands, and the breast and stomach all adorned with ears of corn, even as the thighs and legs, also, were seen to be all wet and stained with must, while in one hand he carried, as a symbol of his circling course, a circle formed by a serpent that appeared to be seeking to devour the tail with the mouth, and in the other hand a nail, such as the ancient Romans used, so we read, to keep count of the years in their temples. Then came rosy Aurora, all pleasing, fair, and lissom, with a little yellow mantle, and with an ancient lamp in the hand, seated with most beautiful grace upon the horse Pegasus. In her company was seen the physician Æsculapius, in the habit of a priest, with a knotted stick and a ruddy serpent in the hands, and a dog at his feet; and with them the young Phaëthon, also (like Æsculapius) the child of the Sun, who, all burning, to recall the memory of his unhappy fate, appeared to wish to transform himself into even such a swan as he carried in his hand. Orpheus, next, their brother, was seen walking behind them, young and much adorned, but of a presence grave and venerable, with the tiara on his head, and seeming to play a most ornate lyre; and with him was seen the enchantress Circe, likewise the daughter of the Sun, with a band around the head, which was a sign of her sovereignty, and in the habit of a matron, and she was shown holding in the hand, in place of a sceptre, a little branch of larch and another of cedar, with the fumes of which it is said that she used to contrive the greater part of her enchantments. And the nine Muses, walking in gracious order, formed a most beautiful finish to the last part of the lovely company just described; who were seen figured in the forms of most graceful Nymphs, crowned with feathers of the magpie in remembrance [Pg 138] of the Sirens vanquished by them, and with feathers of other kinds, and holding various musical instruments in the hands, while among the last of them, who held the most honourable place, was set Memory, mother of the Muses, adorned with rich black draperies, and holding in the hand a little black dog, signifying the marvellous memory which that animal is said to have, and with the head-dress fantastically composed of the most different things, denoting the so many and so different things that the memory is able to retain.
The great father of mankind and of the Gods, Jove, the son of Saturn, had the fifth car, ornate and rich in pomp beyond all the others; for, besides the five fables that were seen painted there, as with the others, it was rendered rich and marvellous beyond belief by three statues that served as most imposing partitions to those fables. By one of these was seen represented the image, such as it is believed to have been, of the young Epaphus, the son of Io and Jove, and by the second that of the lovely Helen, who was born from Leda at one birth with Castor and Pollux; even as by the last was represented that of the grandfather of the sage Ulysses, called Arcesius. For the first of the fables already mentioned was seen Jove transformed into a Bull, conveying the trusting Europa to Crete, even as for the second was seen his perilous rape as he flew to Heaven in the form of an Eagle with the Trojan Ganymede, and for the third his other transformation into fire when he wished to lie with the beautiful Ægina, daughter of Asopus. For the fourth was seen the same Jove, changed into a rain of gold, falling into the lap of his beloved Danaë; and in the fifth and last he was seen delivering his father Saturn, who, as has been told above, was unworthily held prisoner by the Titans. In such and so adorned a car, then, and upon a most beautiful throne composed of various animals and of many gilded Victories, with a little mantle woven of divers animals and plants, the above-named great father Jove was seen seated in infinite majesty, with a garland of leaves similar to those of the common olive, and in the right hand a Victory [Pg 139] crowned with a band of white wool, and in the left hand a royal sceptre, at the head of which was shown poised the imperial Eagle. At the foot of the throne, to render it more imposing and pompous, was seen on one side Niobe, with her children, dying by the shafts of Apollo and Diana, and on the other side seven men in combat, who were seen to have in their midst a boy with the head bound with white wool, even as in another place could be seen Hercules and Theseus, who were shown in combat with the famous Amazons. And at the foot of the car, which was drawn by two very large and very naturally figured eagles, there was seen walking (as has been told of the others) Bellerophon adorned with a royal habit and a royal diadem, in allusion to whose fable there was seen over that diadem the Chimera slain by him; having in his company the young Perseus, born from Jove and Danaë, with the usual head of Medusa in his hand, and the usual knife at his flank; and with them was the above-named Epaphus, who had as a cap the head of an African elephant. Hercules, the son of Jove and Alcmena, with the customary lion's skin and the customary club, was seen coming after them; and in his company he had Scythes, his brother (although born from a different mother), the first inventor of bow and arrows, on which account his hands and his flank were seen furnished with these. After them were seen the two gracious Twins, Castor and Pollux, riding with an air of no less beauty upon two milk-white and spirited coursers, and dressed in military habit; each having upon the helmet, one of which was dotted with eight stars and the other with ten, a brilliant little flame as helmet-crest, in allusion to that salutary light, now called S. Elmo's Fire, which is wont to appear to mariners as a sign that the tempest has passed; the stars being intended to signify how they were placed in Heaven by Jove as the sign of the Twins. Then Justice was seen coming after these, a beautiful maiden, who was beating with a stick and finally strangling a woman ugly and deformed, and in her company were four of the Gods Penates, two male and two female, these demonstrating—although in barbaric and extravagant dress, and although they had on the head a pediment which, with the base turned upwards, supported the heads of a young man and an old—by the gilded chain with a heart attached that they had [Pg 140] about the neck, and by their long, ample, and pompous vestments, that they were persons of great weight and of great and lofty counsel; which was done with much reason, seeing that they were reputed by the ancient writers to be the counsellors of Jove. After them were seen walking the two Palici, born of Jove and Thaleia, adorned with draperies of tawny hue, and crowned with various ears of corn, and each with an altar in the hand; and in their company was Iarbas, King of Gætulia, the son of the same Jove, crowned with a white band, and with the head of a lion surmounted by a crocodile as a cap, and his other garments interwoven with leaves of cane and papyrus and various monsters, and with the sceptre and a burning flame of fire in the hands. Behind these were seen coming Xanthus, the Trojan River, likewise the son of Jove, in human form, but all yellow, all nude, and all shorn, with the overflowing vase in his hands, and Sarpedon, King of Lycia, his brother, in a most imposing garb, and in his hand a little mound covered with lions and serpents. And the last part of that great company, concluding the whole, was formed of four armed Curetes, who kept clashing their swords one against another, thus reviving the memory of Mount Ida, where Jove was saved from the voracious Saturn by their means, drowning by the clash of their arms the wailing of the tender babe; among whom, with the last couple, for greater dignity, as Queen of all the others, winged and without feet, and with much pomp and grandeur, proud Fortune was seen haughtily approaching.
Mars, the proud and warlike God, covered with brightly-shining armour, had the sixth car, adorned with no little richness and pomp, and drawn by two ferocious wolves very similar to the reality; and therein his wife Neriene and his daughter Evadne, figured in low-relief, served to divide three of his fables, which (as has been told of the other cars) were painted there. For the first of these, he was seen slaying the hapless son of Neptune, Halirrhotius, in vengeance for the violation of Alcippe, and for the second he was seen in most amorous guise lying with Rea [Pg 141] Silvia, and begetting by her the two great founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus; even as for the third and last he was seen miserably reduced to captivity (as happens often enough to his followers) in the hands of the impious Otus and Ephialtes. Then before the car, as the first figures, preceding it on horseback, were seen two of his priests, the Salii, with their usual shields, the Ancilia, and clad and adorned with their usual armour and vestments, and wearing on their heads, in place of helmets, two caps in the likeness of cones; and they were seen followed by the above-named Romulus and Remus in the guise of shepherds, covered in rustic fashion with skins of wolves, while, to distinguish the one from the other, Remus had six vultures placed in his head-dress, and Romulus twelve, in memory of his more happy augury. After them came Œnomaus, King of the Greek Pisa, and also the son of Mars, who held in one hand, as King, a royal sceptre, and in the other a little chariot all broken, in memory of the treachery shown against him by the charioteer Myrtilus in his combat for his daughter Hippodameia against Pelops, her lover. And after him were seen coming Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, likewise sons of Mars, adorned with a rich military habit; recalling by the ships that they had in the hand, one for each, the weighty succour brought by them with fifty ships to the besieged Trojans. These were followed by the beautiful Nymph Britona, daughter likewise of Mars, with a net in her arms, in memory of her miserable fate; and by the not less beautiful Harmonia, who was born of the same Mars and lovely Venus, and became the wife of Theban Cadmus. To her, it is said, Vulcan once presented a most beautiful necklace, on which account she was seen with that necklace about her neck; and in the upper parts she had the semblance of a woman, but in the lower parts—denoting that she was transformed, together with her husband, into a serpent—she was seen all covered with serpent's skin. These had behind them, with a bloody knife in the hand and across the shoulders a little kid split open, and very fierce in aspect, Hyperion, born from the same father, by whom it is said that men were first taught to kill brute-animals, and with him the no less fierce Ætolus, likewise the offspring of Mars; and between them was seen walking blind Rage, adorned with a red habit all picked out with black embroidery, [Pg 142] with foaming mouth, and with a rhinoceros on the head and a cynocephalus upon the back. After these walked Fraud, with the face of a human creature and with the other parts as they are described by Dante in the Inferno, and Menace, truly threatening in aspect with the sword and the staff that she had in the hands, covered with grey and red draperies, and with the mouth open; and they were seen to have behind them Fury, the great Minister of Mars, and Death, pallid and not less in harmony with the same Mars; the first all draped and tinted in dark red, with the hands bound behind the back, and seeming to be seated, all threatening, upon a great bundle of various arms, and the second all pallid, as has been said, and covered with black draperies, with the eyes closed, and with a presence no less awful and no less horrible. Spoils, then, in the form of a woman adorned with a lion's skin, with an ancient trophy in the hand, was seen coming after these, and she appeared as if desirous to exult over two prisoners, wounded and bound, who were on either side of her; having behind her, as the last line of so terrible a company, a woman of a very stalwart presence, with two bull's horns on the head and with an elephant in the hand, representing Force, to whom Cruelty, all red and likewise awful, killing a little child, seemed to make a true and fit companion.
Very different was the aspect of the charming, graceful, elegant, and gilded car of benign Venus, which was seen coming after the last in the seventh place, drawn by two most peaceful, snow-white, and amorous doves; wherein were not wanting four scenes executed with great mastery, to render it pleasing, gladsome, and rich in pomp. For the first of these was seen the lovely Goddess transforming herself into a fish, to escape from the fury of the Giant Typhœus, and for the second, likewise, she was seen praying the great father Jove most piteously that he should deign to make an end at last of the many labours of her much-enduring son Æneas. In the third was seen the same Venus caught by her husband Vulcan with the net, while lying with her lover Mars; even as in the fourth and last she was seen, no less solicitous for her same son Æneas, coming [Pg 143] into accord with the so inexorable Juno to unite him with the snares of love to the chaste Queen of Carthage. The beautiful Adonis, as her dearest lover, was seen walking first before the car, in the gracious habit of a huntsman, and with him appeared as his companions two charming little Loves, with painted wings and with bows and arrows. These were followed by the marital Hymeneus, young and beautiful, with the customary garland of marjoram, and in his hand the lighted torch; and by Thalassius with the spear and shield, and the little basket full of wool. And after them was seen coming Peitho, the Goddess of Persuasion, robed in the habit of a matron, with a great tongue upon the head (after the Egyptian custom) containing a bloody eye, and in the hand another similar tongue which was joined to another counterfeited hand; and with her the Trojan Paris in the habit of a shepherd, who was seen carrying in memory of his fable that for him so unlucky apple. Even as Concord, in the form of a grave and beautiful woman crowned with a garland, with a cup in one hand and in the other a sceptre wreathed in flowers, could be seen following these; and with her, likewise, appeared as a companion Priapus, the God of orchards, with the usual sickle and with the lap all full of fruits; and with them, with a cube in the hand and another upon the head, Manturna, who was always invoked most devoutly by brides on the first night that they were joined with their husbands, believing that firmness and constancy could be infused by her into inconstant minds. Extravagantly figured, next, was Friendship, who came after these, for, although in the form of a young woman, she was seen to have the bare head crowned with leaves of pomegranate and myrtle, wearing a rough dress, upon which could be read, MORS ET VITA; with the breast open, so that the heart could be perceived, and there, likewise, were to be read these words written, LONGE ET PROPE; and she carried in the hand a withered elm-trunk entwined with a fresh and fertile vine. In her company was Pleasure, both the seemly and the unseemly, likewise extravagantly figured in the form of two young women that were shown attached to one another by the back; one white, and, as Dante said, cross-eyed and with the feet distorted, and the other, although black, yet of a seemly and gracious form, girt with beautiful [Pg 144] consideration by the jewelled and gilded cestus, with a bit and a common braccio for measuring in the hands. And she was followed by the Goddess Virginensis, who used also to be invoked in ancient nuptials, that she might aid the husband to loose the virgin zone; on which account, all robed in draperies of white linen, with a crown of emeralds and a cock upon the head, she was seen walking with the above-named zone and with a little branch of agnus-castus in the hands. In her company was Beauty, desired so much and by so many, in the form of a gracious virgin wreathed in flowers, and all crowned with lilies; and with them was Hebe, the Goddess of Youth, likewise a virgin, and likewise dressed with much richness and infinite grace, and crowned with the ornament of a lovely gilded garland, and carrying in the hand a beautiful little branch of flowering almond. Finally, that most lovely company was concluded by Joy, likewise a virgin, gracious and crowned with a garland, who in similar guise carried in the hand a thyrsus all woven of garlands and various leaves and flowers.
To Mercury, who had the caduceus, the cap, and the winged sandals, was given the eighth car, drawn by two most natural storks, and likewise enriched and adorned with five of his fables. For the first of these he was seen appearing upon the new walls of Carthage, as the Messenger of Jove, to the enamoured Æneas, and commanding him that he should depart thence and set out on the way to Italy; even as for the second was seen the unhappy Agraulos converted by him into stone, and for the third he was seen likewise at the command of Jove binding the too audacious Prometheus to the rocks of Mount Caucasus. In the fourth, again, he was seen converting the ill-advised Battus into that stone that is called basanite; and in the fifth and last was his slaying, so cunningly achieved, of the many-eyed Argus. For clearer demonstration, that same Argus was seen walking first before the car, in a pastoral habit all covered with eyes; and with him was seen as his companion Maia, the mother of the above-named Mercury and daughter of Faunus, in the [Pg 145] very rich habit of a young woman, with a vine upon the head and a sceptre in the hand, having some serpents tame in appearance that were following her. After these was seen coming Palæstra, daughter of Mercury, in the semblance of a virgin wholly nude, but stalwart and proud to a marvel, and adorned with various leaves of olive over the whole person, with the hair cut short, to the end that when fighting, as it was her custom always to do, it might not give a grip to the enemy; and with her was Eloquence, also the daughter of Mercury, robed in the dignified and decorous habit of a matron, with a parrot upon the head, and with one of the hands open. Next were seen the three Graces, with the hands linked in the usual manner, and draped in most delicate veiling; and after them were seen coming the two Lares, dressed in the skins of dogs, with whom there appeared as their companion Art, also in the habit of a matron, with a great lever and a great flame of fire in the hands. These were followed by Autolycus, that most subtle thief, the son of Mercury and of the Nymph Chione, with shoes of felt and a closed cap that hid his face, having both his hands occupied with such a lantern as is called a thieves' lantern, various picklocks, and a rope-ladder. And finally, Hermaphroditus, the offspring of the same Mercury and of Venus, figured in the usual manner, was seen bringing up the rear of that little company.
The ninth car, all silvered, of the Moon, drawn by two horses, one black and the other white, was seen passing in no less lovely fashion after the last; the Moon, draped, as is customary, in a white and delicate veil, guiding the silver reins with grace most gracious; and, like the others, it was seen adorned with no less beauty and pomp by four of her fables. For the first of these that most gentle Goddess, flying from the fury of Typhœus, was seen constrained to transform herself into a cat; even as in the second she was seen fondly embracing and kissing beautiful Endymion as he lay asleep, and in the third she was seen, won over by a delicate fleece of white wool, making her way into a dark forest, there to lie with the enamoured Pan, the God of Shepherds. In the fourth was [Pg 146] seen how the same Endymion named above, for the grace acquired with her, was given pasture for his white flock; and for a better representation of him who was so dear to the Moon, he was then seen walking first before the car, crowned with dittany, and in his company a fair-haired child, with a serpent in the hand, and also crowned with leaves of the plane, representing the Good Genius, and a great black man, awful in aspect, with the beard and hair all dishevelled and with an owl in the hand, representing the Evil Genius. These were followed by the God Vaticanus, who is believed to be able to bring succour to the wailing of little infants, robed in a handsome tawny habit, and with an infant in his arms; and with him was likewise seen coming, in a splendid and well-varied dress, with a key in the hand, the Goddess Egeria, who is also invoked in aid of pregnant women; and with them the other Goddess, Nundina, who likewise protects the names of little babes, in a venerable habit, with a branch of laurel and a sacrificial vase in the hands. Then after these Vitumnus was seen walking, who was reputed to breathe the soul into children at their birth, figured after the Egyptian custom, and with him Sentinus, who likewise was believed by the ancients to give to the newly-born the power of the senses, on which account, he himself being all white, there were seen in his head-dress the heads of those five animals that are believed to have the five senses more acute than any of the others; that of an ape, namely, that of a vulture, that of a wild-boar, that of a lynx, and that—or rather, the whole body—of a little spider. Then Edusa and Potina, who preside over the nourishment of those same infants, were seen riding in the same fashion as the others, in the habit of nymphs, but with breasts very long and very full, one holding a basin containing white bread, and the other a most beautiful vase that seemed to be full of water; and with them, concluding the last part of the company, was Fabulinus, who presides over the first speech of the same infants, robed in various colours, with the head all crowned with wagtails and singing chaffinches.
Minerva, clad in armour, with the spear and the shield of the Gorgon, as she is generally figured, had the tenth car, composed in a triangular form and in the colour of bronze, and drawn by two very large and most bizarre owls, of which I cannot forbear to say that although it would be possible to relate singular and even incredible marvels of all the animals that drew the cars, yet these, beyond all the others, were figured so lifelike and so natural, and their feet, wings, and necks were made to move, and even the eyes to open and shut so well, and with a resemblance so close to the reality, that I know not how I could ever be able to convince of it those who never saw them. However, ceasing to speak of these, I must relate that of the three sides of which the triangular car was composed, there was seen painted in one the miraculous birth of the Goddess from the head of Jove, even as in the second Pandora was seen adorned by her with all those countless ornaments, and in the third, likewise, she was seen converting the hair of the wretched Medusa into snakes. Then on one part of the base there was painted the contest that she had with Neptune over the name that was to be given to Athenæ (before she had such a name), when, he producing the fiery horse and she the fruitful olive, she was seen to win thereby a glorious and memorable victory; and on the other she was seen in the form of a little old woman, striving to persuade the overbold Arachne, before she had transformed her into the animal of that name, that she should consent, without putting the matter to the proof, to yield her the palm in the art of embroidery; even as in the third and last part, with a different aspect, she was seen valorously slaying the proud Typhon. Before the car was seen walking Virtue, in the form of a young and stalwart woman, with two great wings, and in an easy, chaste, and becoming habit, having as a worthy companion the venerable Honour, crowned with palm and resplendent in purple and gold, with the shield and spear in the hands, who was shown supporting two temples, into one of which (namely, that dedicated to the same Honour) it appeared impossible to pass save by way of that dedicated to Virtue; and to the end that a noble and worthy companion might be [Pg 148] given to those masks, it seemed right that Victory, crowned with laurel and likewise with a branch of palm in the hand, should be added to the same line. These were followed by Good Fame, figured in the form of a young woman with two white wings, sounding a great trumpet, and after her, with a little white dog in her arms, came Faith, likewise all white, with a luminous veil that was seen covering her arms, head, and face; and with them Salvation, holding in the right hand a cup that she seemed to be seeking to offer to a serpent, and in the other a thin and straight wand. After these, then, was seen coming Nemesis, the daughter of Night, who rewards the good and chastises the wicked, virginal in aspect, and crowned with little stags and little victories, with a spear of ash and a similar cup in the hands; with whom appeared as her companion Peace, also a virgin, but of a kindly aspect, with a branch of olive in the hand and a blind boy, representing the God of riches, in the arms; and with them, carrying in the hand a drinking-vessel in the form of a lily, and in similar guise, was seen likewise coming ever-verdant Hope, followed by Clemency, who was riding upon a great lion, with a spear in one hand and in the other a thunderbolt, which she was making as if not to hurl furiously, but to throw away. Then were seen likewise coming Opportunity, who had a little behind her Penitence, by whom she seemed to be continually smitten, and Felicity, upon a commodious throne, with a caduceus in one hand and a horn of plenty in the other. And these were seen followed by the Goddess Pellonia, whose office it is to keep enemies at a distance, in full armour, with two great horns upon the head, and in the hand a vigilant crane, who was seen poised upon one foot, as is their custom, and holding in the other a stone; and with her, closing the last part of the glorious company, was Science, figured in the form of a young man, who was shown carrying in the hand a book and upon the head a gilded tripod, to denote his constancy and firmness.
Vulcan, the God of fire, old, ugly, and lame, with a cap of turquoise-blue upon the head, had the eleventh car, drawn by two great dogs; and in it was figured the Isle of Lemnos, where it is said that Vulcan, thrown down from Heaven, was nursed by Thetis, and began to fashion there the first thunderbolts for Jove. Before it were seen walking, as his ministers and servants, three Cyclopes, Brontes, Steropes, and Pyracmon, of whose aid he is said to have been wont to avail himself in making those thunderbolts. After them was seen coming Polyphemus, the lover of the beautiful Galatea and the first of all the Cyclopes, in the garb of a shepherd, with a great pipe hanging from his neck and a staff in the hand; and with him, crowned with seven stars, the deformed but ingenious Ericthonius, born with serpent's feet from Vulcan's attempt to violate Minerva, to conceal the ugliness of which it is believed that he invented the use of chariots, on which account he walked with one of these in the hand. He was seen followed by the savage Cacus, also the son of Vulcan, spouting a stream of sparks from the mouth and nose; and by Cæculus, likewise the son of Vulcan, and likewise in pastoral garb, but adorned with the royal diadem, and in one of his hands, in memory of the building of Præneste, was seen a city placed upon a hill, and in the other a ruddy and burning flame. After these was seen coming Servius Tullius, King of Rome, who is also believed to have been born of Vulcan, and upon his head, even as in the hand of Cæculus, in token of his happy augury, a similar flame was seen to form in marvellous fashion a splendid and propitious garland. Then was seen the jealous Procris, daughter of the above-named Ericthonius, and wife of Cephalus, who, in memory of the ancient fable, seemed to have the breast transfixed by a javelin; and with her was seen Oreithyia, her sister, in a virginal and lovely habit, and in the centre between them was Pandion, King of Athens, born with them of the same father, adorned with the vestments of a Grecian King. After him came Procne and Philomela, his daughters, one dressed in the skin of a deer, with a spear in the hand and upon the head a little chattering swallow, and the other carrying in the same place [Pg 150] a nightingale, and likewise having in the hand a woman's embroidered mantle, in allusion to her miserable fate; and she appeared to be following her beloved father all filled with sorrow, although adorned with a rich vestment. And with them, to conclude the last part of the company, was Caca, the sister of Cacus, adored by the ancients as a Goddess for the reason that, laying aside her love for her brother, she is said to have revealed to Hercules the secret of the stolen cattle.
When Vulcan had passed, Queen Juno, adorned with a rich, superb, and royal crown, and with vestments transparent and luminous, was seen coming in much majesty upon the twelfth car, which was not less pompous than any of the others, and drawn by two most lovely peacocks; and between the five little stories of her actions that were seen painted therein, were Lycorias, Beroë, and Deiopea, her most beautiful and most favoured Nymphs. For the first of these stories was seen the unhappy Callisto transformed by her into a bear, who was placed afterwards by compassionate Jove among the principal stars in the heavens; and in the second was seen how, having transformed herself into the likeness of Beroë, she persuaded the unsuspecting Semele to beseech Jove that he should deign in his grace to lie with her in the guise wherein he was wont to lie with his wife Juno; on which account the unhappy mortal, not being able to sustain the force of the celestial splendour, was consumed by fire, and Jove was seen to take Bacchus from her belly and place him in his own, preserving him for the full time of birth. In the third, likewise, she was seen praying Æolus that he should send his furious winds to scatter the fleet of Trojan Æneas; even as in the fourth she was seen in like manner, filled with jealousy, demanding from Jove the miserable Io transformed into a cow, and giving her, to the end that she might not be stolen from her by Jove, into the custody of the ever-vigilant Argus, who, as has been told elsewhere, was put to sleep and slain by Mercury; and in the fifth picture was seen Juno sending after most unhappy Io the pitiless gad-fly, to the end that he might keep her [Pg 151] continually pricked and stung. At the foot of the car, then, were seen coming a good number of those phenomena that are formed in the air, among which could be seen as the first Iris, regarded by the ancients as the messenger of the Gods, and the daughter of Thaumas and Electra; all lissom and free, and dressed in vestments of red, yellow, blue, and green, signifying the rainbow, with two hawks' wings upon the head that denoted her swiftness. In her company, then, in a red habit, with the hair ruddy and dishevelled, was the Comet, figured as a young woman who had a large and shining star upon the brow; and with them came Clear Sky, in the aspect of a virgin, who was seen with the countenance of turquoise-blue, and turquoise-blue all the wide and ample dress, not without a white dove likewise upon the head, to signify the sky. After these were seen Snow and Mist, coupled together; the first dressed in tawny-coloured draperies, upon which were shown lying many trunks of trees all sprinkled with snow, and the other was seen walking, as if she had no shape, as it were in the semblance of a great white mass; having with them verdant Dew, figured in that same colour, to denote the green plants upon which she is generally seen, and having a round moon upon the head, signifying that in the time of the moon's fulness, above all, dew is wont to fall from the heavens upon green herbage. Then there followed Rain, dressed in a white but somewhat soiled habit, upon whose head seven stars, partly bright and partly dim, formed a garland representing the seven Pleiades, even as the seventeen that blazed upon her breast appeared to denote the sign of rainy Orion. There followed, likewise, three virgins of different ages, attired in white draperies and also crowned with olive, representing the three classes of virgins that used to run races in the ancient games of Juno; having with them, for the last, the Goddess Populonia in the rich habit of a matron, with a garland of pomegranate and balm-mint upon the head, and with a little table in the hand, by whom the airy company above described was seen graciously concluded.
Fanciful, bizarre, and beautiful beyond all the others appeared the thirteenth car, of Neptune, which was composed of an immense crab, such as the Venetians are wont to call Grancevola, which rested upon four great dolphins, having about the base, which resembled a real and natural rock, a vast number of sea-shells, sponges, and corals, which rendered it most lovely and ornate, and being drawn by two sea-horses; and upon it was seen standing Neptune, in the customary form and with the customary trident, having at his feet, as a companion, his spouse Salacia, in the form of a snow-white nymph all covered with foam. Before the car, then, was seen walking the old and bearded Glaucus, all dripping and all covered with sea-weed and moss, whose person from the waist downwards was seen in the form of a swimming fish. About him circled many halcyon-birds, and with him was seen the much-changing and deceitful Proteus, likewise old, all dripping, and covered with sea-weed; and with them proud Phorcys, with a royal band of turquoise-blue about the head, and with beard and hair long and flowing beyond measure, and carrying in the hand the famous Pillars of Hercules, as a sign of the empire that he once had. Then followed two Tritons with the customary tails, sounding their trumpets, and in their company appeared old Æolus, likewise holding in the hands a royal sceptre and a sail, and having upon the head a burning flame of fire. And he was followed by four of his principal Winds; by young Zephyrus, with the locks and the varied wings adorned with various little flowers, by dark and parching Eurus, who had a radiant sun upon the head; by cold and snowy Boreas; and, finally, by the soft, cloudy, and proud Auster; all figured, according as they are generally painted, with swelling cheeks and with the large and swift wings that are customary. After these, in due place, were seen coming the two giants, Otus and Ephialtes, all wounded and transfixed by various arrows, in memory of their having been slain by Apollo and Diana; and with them, not less appropriately, were seen coming likewise two Harpies, with the customary maiden's face and the customary rapacious claws and most hideous belly. There was seen also the Egyptian God Canopus, [Pg 153] in memory of the astuteness formerly used by the priest against the Chaldæans, figured as very short, round, and fat; and likewise, young and lovely, winged Zetes and Calais, the sons of Boreas, by whose valour it is related that once upon a time those foul and ravenous Harpies were driven from the world. And with them were seen, at the last, the beautiful Nymph Amymone, beloved by Neptune, with a gilded vase, and the young Greek Neleus, son of the same Neptune, who, with royal sceptre and habit, was seen to conclude the last part of the company described above.
There followed in the fourteenth company, with Tethys, the great Queen of the sea, the great father Oceanus, her husband, the son of Heaven, who was figured in the form of a tall and cerulean old man, with a great beard and long hair all wet and dishevelled, and covered all over with sea-weed and various sea-shells, with a horrible seal in the hand, while she was represented as a tall and masterful matron, resplendent, old, and white, and holding in the hand a great fish; and they were both seen upon a most fantastic car in the semblance of a rock, very strange and bizarre, drawn by two immense whales. At the foot of the car was seen walking Nereus, their son, old, venerable, and covered with foam, and with him Thetis, daughter of that Nereus and of Doris, and mother of great Achilles, who was shown riding upon a dolphin; and she was seen followed by three most beautiful Sirens figured in the usual manner, who had behind them two very beautiful, although white-haired, Nymphs of the sea, called Graeæ, likewise daughters of the Sea-God Phorcys and of the Nymph Ceto, clothed most pleasingly in various graceful draperies. Behind these, then, were seen coming the three Gorgons with their snaky locks, daughters of the same father and mother, who made use of a single eye, with which alone, lending it to one another, they were all three able to see; and there was likewise seen coming the cruel Scylla, with the face and breast of a maiden and with the rest of the person in the form of a fish, and with her the old, ugly, and voracious Charybdis, transfixed by an arrow in memory of her well-deserved punishment. And behind [Pg 154] these, in order to leave the last part of the company more gladsome in aspect, there was seen coming for the last, all nude, the beautiful and pure-white Galatea, beloved and gracious daughter of Nereus and Doris.
In the fifteenth car, which had the natural and true appearance of a shady forest counterfeited with much artifice, and was drawn by two great white he-goats, was seen coming the rubicund Pan, the God of forests and of shepherds, in the form of an old and horned Satyr, crowned with foliage of the pine, with the spotted skin of a panther across the body, and in the hands a great pipe with seven reeds and a pastoral staff. At the foot of the car were seen walking some other Satyrs and some old Sylvan Gods, crowned with fennel and lilies, and holding some boughs of cypress in memory of the beloved Cyparissus. After these, likewise, were seen coming two Fauns crowned with laurel, and each with a cat upon the right shoulder; and behind them the wild and beautiful Syrinx, beloved by Pan, who, flying from him, is said to have been transformed by the Naiad sisters into a tremulous and musical reed. Syrinx had in her company the other Nymph, Pitys, likewise beloved by Pan; but since the wind Boreas was also and in like manner enamoured of her, it is believed that out of jealousy he hurled her over a most cruel rock, whereupon, being all shattered, it is said that out of pity she was transformed by Mother Earth into a beautiful pine, from the foliage of which her lover Pan used, as has been shown above, to make himself a gracious and well-beloved garland. Then after these was seen coming Pales, the revered custodian and protectress of flocks, dressed as a gentle shepherdess, with a great vessel of milk in the hands, and a garland of medicinal herbs; and with her the protectress of herds, by name Bubona, in a similar pastoral dress, with an ornate head of an ox that made a cap for her head; and Myiagrus, the God of flies, dressed in white, with an infinite multitude of those importunate little creatures about his head and his person, with a garland of spondyl, and with the club of Hercules in his hand; and Evander, who first taught men in Italy to make sacrifices to Pan, adorned [Pg 155] with royal purple and the royal head-band, and with the royal sceptre in his hand, concluded with gracious pomp the last part of that pastoral, indeed, yet pleasing and most fair company.
Then followed infernal Pluto with Queen Proserpine, all nude, awful, and dark, and crowned with funeral cypress, holding a little sceptre in one of his hands as a sign of his royal power, and having at his feet the great, horrible, and triple-throated Cerberus; but Proserpine, who was seen with him (accompanied by two Nymphs, one holding in the hand a round ball, and the other a great and strong key, denoting that one who has once come into that kingdom must abandon all hope of return), was shown clothed in a white and rich dress, ornate beyond belief. And both were in the usual car, drawn by four jet-black horses, whose reins were seen guided by a most hideous and infernal monster, who had with him, as worthy companions, the three likewise infernal Furies, bloody, foul, and awful, with the hair and the whole person entwined with various venomous serpents. Behind these were seen following the two Centaurs, Nessus and Astylus, with bows and arrows, and besides these arms Astylus carried in the hand a great eagle; and with them the proud giant Briareus, who had a hundred hands armed with sword and buckler, and fifty heads, from which a stream of fire was seen spouting through the mouth and nostrils. These were followed by turbid Acheron, pouring water and sand, livid and stinking, from a great vase that he carried in his hands, and with him was seen coming the other infernal river, Cocytus, likewise pallid and dark, and likewise pouring from a similar vase a similar fetid and turbid stream; having with them the horrible and sluggish Styx, daughter of Oceanus, so much feared by all the Gods, who was dressed in a nymph's habit, but dark and foul, and carried a similar vase, and seemed to be encompassed by the other infernal river, Phlegethon, whose whole person, with his vase and the boiling waters, was tinted with a dark and fearful redness. Then followed old Charon, with the oar, and with the eyes (as Dante said) of glowing coal; accompanied, [Pg 156] to the end that not one of the infernal rivers might be absent, by the pallid, meagre, emaciated, and oblivious Lethe, in whose hand was seen a similar vase, which likewise poured from every side turbid and livid water; and following behind them were the three great judges of Hell, Minos, Æacus, and Rhadamanthus, the first being figured in royal form and habit, and the second and third attired in dark, grave, and venerable vestments. After these was seen coming Phlegyas, the sacrilegious King of the Lapithæ, recalling, by an arrow that transfixed his breast, the memory of the burned temple of Phœbus and the chastisement received from him, and, for clearer demonstration, carrying that temple all burning in one of his hands. Next was seen the afflicted Sisyphus under the great and ponderous stone, and with him the famished and miserable Tantalus, who was shown with the fruits so vainly desired close to his mouth. And then were seen coming, but in more gracious aspect, as if setting out from the glad Elysian Fields, with the comet-like star on the brow, and wearing the imperial habit, the divine Julius and the happy Octavianus Augustus, his successor; the terrible and dreadful company being finally concluded in most noble fashion by the Amazon Penthesileia, adorned with the spear, the half-moon shield, and the royal band upon the head, and by the widowed Queen Tomyris, who likewise had the hands and side adorned with the bow and barbaric arrows.
After these was seen coming Cybele, the great mother of the Gods, crowned with towers, and, for the reason that she is held to be Goddess of the Earth, robed in a vestment woven of various plants, with a sceptre in the hand, and seated upon a quadrangular car, which contained many other empty seats besides her own, and was drawn by two great lions; and for the adornment of the car were painted with most beautiful design four of her stories. For the first of these was seen how, when she was conveyed from Pessinus to Rome, the ship that was carrying her being stuck fast in the Tiber, she was drawn miraculously to the bank by the Vestal Claudia with only her own simple girdle, to the rare marvel of [Pg 157] the bystanders; even as for the second she was seen taken by command of her priests to the house of Scipio Nasica, who was judged to be the best and most holy man to be found in Rome at that time. For the third, likewise, she was seen visited in Phrygia by the Goddess Ceres, after she thought to have hidden her daughter Proserpine safely in Sicily; and for the fourth and last she was seen flying from the fury of the Giants into Egypt, as the poets relate, and constrained to transform herself into a blackbird. At the foot of the car, then, were seen riding ten Corybantes, armed after the ancient fashion, who were making various extravagant gestures of head and person; after whom were seen coming two Roman matrons in Roman dress, with the head covered by a yellow veil, and with them the above-named Scipio Nasica and the Vestal Virgin Claudia, who had over the head a square white kerchief with a border all around, which was fastened under the throat. And for the last, to give a gracious conclusion to the little company, there was seen coming with an aspect of great loveliness the young and beautiful Atys, beloved most ardently, as we read, by Cybele; who, besides the rich, easy, and charming costume of a huntsman, was seen most gracefully adorned by a very beautiful gilded collar.
In the eighteenth and incredibly beautiful car, drawn by two white stags, there was seen coming, with the gilded bow and gilded quiver, the huntress Diana, who was shown seated with infinite grace and loveliness upon two other stags, which with their hindquarters made for her, as it were, a most fanciful seat; the rest of the car being rendered strangely gracious, lovely, and ornate by nine of her most pleasing fables. For the first of these was seen how, moved by pity for the flying Arethusa, who was seen pursued by the enamoured Alpheus, the Goddess converted her into a fountain; even as for the second she was seen praying Æsculapius that he should consent to restore to life for her the dead but innocent Hippolytus; which being accomplished, she was then seen in the third ordaining him guardian of her temple and her sacred wood in Aricia. For the fourth she was seen chasing Cynthia, violated by Jove, [Pg 158] from the pure waters where she used to bathe with her other virgin Nymphs; and for the fifth was seen the deceit practised by her on the above-named Alpheus, when, seeking presumptuously to obtain her as his wife, he was taken by her to see her dance, and there, having smeared her face with mire in company with the other Nymphs, she constrained him, not being able to recognize her in that guise, to depart all derided and scorned. For the sixth, then, she was seen in company with her brother Apollo, chastising proud Niobe and slaying her with all her children; and for the seventh she was seen sending the great and savage boar into the Calydonian forest, which laid all Ætolia waste, having been moved to just and righteous wrath against that people because they had discontinued her sacrifices. Even as for the eighth she was seen not less wrathfully converting the unhappy Actæon into a stag; but in the ninth and last, moved on the contrary by pity, she was seen transforming Egeria, weeping for the death of her husband, Numa Pompilius, into a fountain. At the foot of the car, then, were seen coming eight of her huntress Nymphs, with their bows and quivers, dressed in graceful, pleasing, loose, and easy garments, composed of skins of various animals as it were slain by them; and with them, as the last, concluding the small but gracious company, was young Virbius, crowned with spotted-leaf myrtle, and holding in one hand a little broken chariot, and in the other a bunch of tresses virginal and blonde.
In the nineteenth car, drawn by two great dragons, coming in no less pomp than the others, was seen Ceres, the Goddess of grain-crops, in the habit of a matron, with a garland of ears of corn and with ruddy locks; and with no less pomp that car was seen adorned by nine of her fables, which had been painted there. For the first of these was seen figured the happy birth of Pluto, the God of Riches, born, as we read in certain poets, from her and from the hero Iasius; even as for the second she was seen washing with great care and feeding with her own milk the little Triptolemus, son of Eleusis and Hyona. For the third was [Pg 159] seen the same Triptolemus flying by her advice upon one of the two dragons that had been presented to him by her, together with the car, to the end that he might go through the world piously teaching the care and cultivation of the fields; the other dragon having been killed by the impious King of the Getæ, who sought with every effort likewise to slay Triptolemus. For the fourth was seen how she hid her beloved daughter Proserpine in Sicily, foreseeing in a certain sense that which afterwards befell her; even as in the fifth, likewise, she was seen after that event, as has been told elsewhere, going to Phrygia to visit her mother Cybele; and in the sixth, as she was dwelling in that place, the same Proserpine was seen appearing to her in a dream, and demonstrating to her in what a plight she found herself from Pluto's rape of her; on which account, being all distraught, she was seen in the seventh returning in great haste to Sicily. For the eighth, likewise, was seen how, not finding her there, in her deep anguish she kindled two great torches, being moved to the resolution to seek her throughout the whole world; and in the ninth and last she was seen arriving at the well of Cyane, and there coming by chance upon the girdle of her stolen daughter, a sure proof of what had befallen her; whereupon in her great wrath, not having aught else on which to vent it, she was seen turning to break to pieces the rakes, hoes, ploughs, and other rustic implements that chanced to have been left there in the fields by the peasants. At the foot of the car, then, were seen walking figures signifying her various sacrifices; first, for those that are called the Eleusinia, two little virgins attired in white vestments, each with a gracious little basket in the hands, one of which was seen to be all filled with various flowers, and the other with various ears of corn. After which, for those sacrifices that were offered to Ceres as Goddess of Earth, there were seen coming two boys, two women, and two men, likewise all dressed in white, and all crowned with hyacinths, who were leading two great oxen, as it were to sacrifice them; and then, for those others that were offered to Ceres the Law-giver, called by the Greeks Thesmophoros, were seen coming two matrons only, very chaste in aspect, likewise dressed in white, and in like manner crowned with ears of corn and agnus-castus. And after these, in order to display in full the [Pg 160] whole order of her sacrifices, there were seen coming three Greek priests, likewise attired in white draperies, two of whom carried in the hands two lighted torches, and the other an ancient lamp, likewise lighted. And, finally, the sacred company was concluded by the two heroes so much beloved by Ceres, of whom mention has been made above—Triptolemus, namely, who carried a plough in the hand and was shown riding upon a dragon, and Iasius, whom it was thought proper to figure in the easy, rich, and gracious habit of a huntsman.
Then followed the twentieth car, of Bacchus, likewise shaped with singular artistry and with novel and truly most fanciful and bizarre invention; and it was seen in the form of a very graceful little ship all overlaid with silver, which was balanced in such wise upon a great base that had the true and natural appearance of the cerulean sea, that at the slightest movement it was seen, with extraordinary pleasure for the spectators, to roll from side to side in the very manner of a real ship upon the real sea. In it, besides the merry and laughing Bacchus, attired in the usual manner and set in the most commanding place, there were seen in company with Maron, King of Thrace, some Bacchantes and some Satyrs all merry and joyful, sounding various cymbals and other suchlike instruments; and since, as it were, from a part of that happy ship there rose an abundant fount of bright and foaming wine, they were seen not only drinking the wine very often from various cups, with much rejoicing, but also with the licence that wine induces inviting the bystanders to drink and sing in their company. In place of a mast, also, the little ship had a great thyrsus wreathed in vine-leaves, which supported a graceful and swelling sail, upon which, to the end that it might be gladsome and ornate, were seen painted many of those Bacchantes who, so it is said, are wont to run about, drinking and dancing and singing with much licence, over Mount Tmolus, father of the choicest wines. At the foot of the car, then, was seen walking the beautiful Syce, beloved by Bacchus, who had upon the head a garland, and in the hand a branch, [Pg 161] of fig; and with her, likewise, was the other love of the same Bacchus, Staphyle by name, who, besides a great vine-branch with many grapes that she carried in the hand, was also seen to have made in no less lovely fashion about her head, with vine-leaves and bunches of similar grapes, a green and graceful garland. After these came the fair and youthful Cissus, also beloved by Bacchus, who, falling by misfortune, was transformed by Mother Earth into ivy, on which account he was seen in a habit all covered with ivy in every part. And behind him was seen coming old Silenus, all naked and bound upon an ass with various garlands of ivy, as if by reason of his drunkenness he were unable to support himself, and carrying attached to his girdle a great wooden cup all worn away; and with him, likewise, came the God of Banquets, called by the ancients Comus, represented in the form of a ruddy, beardless, and most beautiful youth, all crowned with roses, but in aspect so somnolent and languid, that it appeared almost as if the huntsman's boar-spear and the lighted torch that he carried in the hands might fall from them at any moment. There followed with a panther upon the back the old and likewise ruddy and laughing Drunkenness, attired in a red habit, with a great foaming vessel of wine in the hands, and with her the young and merry Laughter; and behind these were seen coming in the garb of shepherds and nymphs two men and two women, followers of Bacchus, crowned and adorned in various ways with various leaves of the vine. And Semele, the mother of Bacchus, all smoky and scorched in memory of the ancient fable, with Narcæus, the first ordinator of the sacrifices to Bacchus, who had a great he-goat upon his back, and was adorned with antique and shining arms, appeared to form a worthy, appropriate, and gracious end to that glad and festive company.
The twenty-first and last car, representing the Roman Mount Janiculum, and drawn by two great white rams, was given to the venerable Janus, figured with two heads, one young and the other old, as is the custom, and holding in the hands a great key and a thin wand, to demonstrate [Pg 162] the power over doors and streets that is attributed to him. At the foot of the car was seen coming sacred Religion, attired in white linen vestments, with one of the hands open, and carrying in the other an ancient altar with a burning flame; and on either side of her were the Prayers, represented, as they are described by Homer, in the form of two wrinkled, lame, cross-eyed, and melancholy old women, dressed in draperies of turquoise-blue. After these were seen coming Antevorta and Postvorta, the companions of Divinity, of whom it was believed that the first had power to know whether prayers were or were not to be heard by the Gods; and the second, who rendered account only of the past, was able to say whether prayers had or had not been heard; the first being figured in the comely aspect and habit of a matron, with a lamp and a corn-sieve in the hands, and a head-dress covered with ants upon the head; and the second, clothed in front all in white, and figured with the face of an old woman, was seen to be attired at the back in heavy black draperies, and to have the hair, on the contrary, blonde, curling, and beautiful, such as is generally seen in young and love-compelling women. Then followed that Favour which we seek from the Gods, to the end that our desires may have a happy and fortunate end; and he, although shown in the aspect of a youth, blind and with wings, and with a proud and haughty presence, yet at times appeared timid and trembling because of the rolling wheel upon which he was seen standing, doubting that, as is often seen to happen, at every least turn he might come with great ease to fall from it; and with him was seen Success, or, as we would rather say, the happy end of our enterprises, figured as a gay and lovely youth, holding in one of the hands a cup, and in the other an ear of corn and a poppy. Then there followed, in the form of a virgin crowned with oriental palm, with a star upon the brow and with a branch of the same palm in the hand, Anna Perenna, revered by the ancients as a Goddess, believing that she was able to make the year fortunate, and with her were seen coming two Fetiales with the Roman toga, adorned with garlands of verbenæ and with a sow and a stone in the hands, to denote the kind of oath that they were wont to take when they made any declaration for the Roman people. Behind these, then, following the religious ceremonies [Pg 163] of war, was seen coming a Roman Consul in the Gabinian and purple toga, and with a spear in the hand, and with him two Roman Senators likewise in the toga, and two soldiers in full armour and with the Roman javelin. And finally, concluding that company and all the others, there followed Money, attired in draperies of yellow, white, and tawny colour, and holding in the hands various instruments for striking coins; the use of which, so it is believed, was first discovered and introduced, as a thing necessary to the human race, by Janus.
Such were the cars and companies of that marvellous masquerade, the like of which was never seen before, and, perchance, will never be seen again in our day. And about it—leaving on one side, as a burden too great for my shoulders, the vast and incomparable praises that would be due to it—there had been marshalled with much judgment six very rich masks in the guise of sergeants, or rather, captains, who, harmonizing very well with the invention of the whole, were seen, according as necessity demanded, running hither and thither and keeping all that long line, which occupied about half a mile of road, advancing in due order with decorum and grace.
Now, drawing near at length to the end of that splendid and most merry Carnival, which would have been much more merry and celebrated with much more splendour, if the inopportune death of Pius IV, which happened a short time before, had not incommoded a good number of very reverend Cardinals and other very illustrious lords from all Italy, who, invited to those most royal nuptials, had made preparations to come; and leaving on one side the rich and lovely inventions without number seen in the separate masks, thanks to the amorous young men, not only in the innumerable banquets and other suchlike entertainments, but wherever they broke a lance or tilted at the ring, now in one place and now in another, and wherever they made similar trial of their dexterity and valour in a thousand other games; and treating only of the last festival, which was seen on the last day, I shall say that although there had been seen the innumerable things, so rare, so rich, and so ingenious, of which mention has been made above, yet this festival, from the pleasing nature of the play, from the richness, emulation and [Pg 164] competence shown in it by our craftsmen (some of whom, as always happens, considered themselves surpassed in the things accomplished), and from a certain extravagance and variety in the inventions, some of which appeared beautiful and ingenious, and others ridiculous and clumsy, this one, I say, also displayed an extraordinary and most charming beauty, and likewise gave to the admiring people, amid all that satiety, a pleasure and a delight that were marvellous and perhaps unexpected; and it was a buffalo-race, composed of ten distinct companies, which were distributed, besides those that the Sovereign Princes took for themselves, partly among the lords of the Court and the strangers, and partly among the gentlemen of the city and the two colonies of merchants, the Spanish and the Genoese. First, then, upon the first buffalo that appeared in the appointed place, there was seen coming Wickedness, adorned with great art and judgment, who was shown being chased, goaded and beaten by six cavaliers likewise figured most ingeniously as Scourging, or rather, Scourges. After that, upon the second buffalo, which had the appearance of a lazy ass, was seen coming the old and drunken Silenus, supported by six Bacchants, who were seen striving at the same time to goad and spur the ass; even as upon the third, which had the form of a calf, there was likewise seen coming the ancient Osiris, accompanied by six of the companions or soldiers with whom, it is believed, that Deity travelled over many parts of the world and taught to the still new and barbarous races the cultivation of the fields. Upon the fourth, without any disguise, was placed as on horseback Human Life, likewise chased and goaded by six cavaliers who represented the Years; even as upon the fifth, also without any disguise, was seen coming Fame with the many mouths and with the great wings of desire that are customary, also chased by six cavaliers who resembled Virtue, or the Virtues; which Virtues, so it was said, chasing her, were aspiring to obtain the due and well-deserved reward of honour. Upon the sixth, then, was seen coming a very rich Mercury, who was shown being goaded and urged on no less than the others by six other similar figures of Mercury; and upon the seventh was seen the nurse of Romulus, Acca Laurentia, with six of her Fratres Arvales, [Pg 165] who were not only urging her lazy animal to a run with their goads, but seemed almost to have been introduced to keep her company with much fittingness and pomp. Upon the eighth, next, was seen coming with much grace and richness a large and very natural owl, with six cavaliers in the form of bats most natural and marvellously similar to the reality, who with most dexterous horses, goading the buffalo now from one side and now from another, were seen delivering a thousand joyous and most festive assaults. For the ninth, with singular artifice and ingenious illusion, there was seen appearing little by little a Cloud, which, after it had held the eyes of the spectators for some time in suspense, was seen in an instant as it were to part asunder, and from it issued the seafaring Misenus seated upon the buffalo, which at once was seen pursued and pricked by six Tritons adorned in a very rich and most masterly fashion. And for the tenth and last there was seen coming, almost with the same artifice, but in a different and much larger form and in a different colour, another similar Cloud, which, parting asunder in like manner at the appointed place with smoke and flame and a horrible thunder, was seen to have within it infernal Pluto, drawn in his usual car, and from it in a most gracious manner was seen to come forth in place of a buffalo a great and awful Cerberus, who was chased by six of those glorious ancient heroes who are supposed to dwell in peace in the Elysian Fields. All those companies, when they had appeared one by one upon the piazza, and presented the due and gracious spectacle, and after a long breaking of lances, a great caracoling of horses, and a thousand other suchlike games, with which the fair ladies and the multitude of spectators were entertained for a good time, finally made their way to the place where the buffaloes were to be set to race. And there, the trumpet having sounded, and each company striving that its buffalo should arrive at the appointed goal before the others, and now one prevailing and now another, all of a sudden, when they were come within a certain distance of the place, all the air about them was seen filled with terror and alarm from the great and deafening fires that smote them now on one side and now on another, in a thousand strange fashions, insomuch that very often it was seen to happen that one who at the [Pg 166] beginning had been nearest to winning the coveted prize, the timid and not very obedient animal taking fright at the noise, the smoke, and the fires above described, which, in proportion as one went ahead, became ever greater and assailed that one with ever greater vehemence, so that the animals turned in various directions, and very often took to headlong flight—it was seen many times, I say, that the first were constrained to return among the last; while the confusion of men, buffaloes, and horses, and the lightning-flashes, noises, and thunderings, produced a strange, novel, and incomparable pleasure and delight. And thus with that spectacle was finally contrived a splendid, although for many perhaps disturbing, conclusion of the joyous and most festive Carnival.
In the first and holy days of the following Lent, with the thought of pleasing the most devout bride, but also with truly extraordinary pleasure for the whole people, who, having been deprived of such things for many years, and part of the fragile apparatus having been lost, feared that they would never be resumed, there was held the festival, so famous and so celebrated in olden days, of S. Felice, so-called from the church where it used formerly to be represented. But this time, besides that which their Excellencies, our Lords, themselves deigned to do, it was represented at the pains and expense of four of the principal and most ingenious gentlemen of the city in the Church of S. Spirito, as a place more capacious and more beautiful, with a vast apparatus of machinery and all the old instruments and not a few newly added. In it, besides many Prophets and Sibyls who, singing in the simple ancient manner, announced the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, very notable—nay, marvellous, stupendous, and incomparable, from its having been contrived in those ignorant ages—was the Paradise, which, opening in an instant, was seen filled with all the hierarchies of the Angels and of the Saints both male and female, and with various movements representing its different spheres, and as it were sending down to earth the Divine Gabriel shining with infinite splendour, in the midst of eight other little Angels, to bring the Annunciation to the Glorious Virgin, who was seen waiting in her chamber, all humble and devout; all being let down (and reascending afterwards), to the rare marvel of everyone, from the highest [Pg 167] part of the cupola of that church, where the above-described Paradise was figured, down to the floor of the chamber of the Virgin, which was not raised any great height from the ground, and all with such security and by methods so beautiful, so facile, and so ingenious, that it appeared scarcely possible that the human brain was able to go so far. And with this the festivities all arranged by our most excellent Lords for those most royal nuptials had a conclusion not only renowned and splendid, but also, as was right fitting for true Christian Princes, religious and devout.
Many things, also, could have been told of a very noble spectacle presented by the most liberal Signor Paolo Giordano Orsino, Duke of Bracciano, in a great and most heroic theatre, all suspended in the air, which was constructed by him of woodwork in those days with royal spirit and incredible expense; and in it, with very rich inventions of the Knights Challengers, of whom he was one, and of the Knights Adventurers, there was fought with various arms a combat for a barrier, and there was performed with beautifully trained horses, to the rare delight of the spectators, the graceful dance called the Battaglia. But this, being hindered by inopportune rains, was prolonged over many days; and since, seeking to treat of it at any length, it would require almost an entire work, being now weary, I believe that I may be pardoned if without saying more of it I bring this my long—I know not whether to call it tedious—labour, at length to an end.
Having discoursed hitherto of the works of others, with the greatest diligence and sincerity that my brain has been able to command, I also wish at the end of these my labours to assemble together and make known to the world the works that the Divine Goodness in its grace has enabled me to execute, for the reason that, if indeed they are not of that perfection which I might wish, it will yet be seen by him who may consent to look at them with no jaundiced eye that they have been wrought by me with study, diligence, and loving labour, and are therefore worthy, if not of praise, at least of excuse; besides which, being out in the world and open to view, I cannot hide them. And since perchance at some time they might be described by some other person, it is surely better that I should confess the truth, and of myself accuse my imperfection, which I know only too well, being assured of this, that if, as I said, there may not be seen in them the perfection of excellence, there will be perceived at least an ardent desire to work well, great and indefatigable effort, and the extraordinary love that I bear to our arts. Wherefore it may come about that, according to the law, myself confessing openly my own deficiencies, I shall be in great part pardoned.
To begin, then, with my earliest years, let me say that, having spoken sufficiently of the origin of my family, of my birth and childhood, and how I was set by Antonio, my father, with all manner of lovingness on the path of the arts, and in particular that of design, to which he saw me much inclined, with good occasions in the Life of Luca Signorelli of Cortona, my kinsman, in that of Francesco Salviati, and in many other places in the present work, I shall not proceed to repeat the same things. But I must relate that after having drawn in my first years all the good [Pg 172] pictures that are about the churches of Arezzo, the first rudiments were taught to me with some method by the Frenchman Guglielmo da Marcilla, whose life and works we have described above. Then, having been taken to Florence in the year 1524 by Silvio Passerini, Cardinal of Cortona, I gave some little attention to design under Michelagnolo, Andrea del Sarto, and others. But the Medici having been driven from Florence in the year 1527, and in particular Alessandro and Ippolito, with whom, young as I was, I had a strait attachment of service through the said Cardinal, my paternal uncle Don Antonio made me return to Arezzo, where a short time before my father had died of plague; which Don Antonio, keeping me at a distance from the city lest I might be infected by the plague, was the reason that I, to avoid idleness, went about exercising my hand throughout the district of Arezzo, near our parts, painting some things in fresco for the peasants of the countryside, although as yet I had scarcely ever touched colours; in doing which I learned that to try your hand and work by yourself is helpful and instructive, and enables you to gain excellent practice. In the year afterwards, 1528, the plague being finished, the first work that I executed was a little altar-picture for the Church of S. Piero, of the Servite Friars, at Arezzo; and in that picture, which is placed against a pilaster, are three half-length figures, S. Agatha, S. Rocco, and S. Sebastian. Being seen by Rosso, a very famous painter, who came in those days to Arezzo, it came about that he, recognizing in it something of the good taken from Nature, desired to know me, and afterwards assisted me with designs and counsel. Nor was it long before by his means M. Lorenzo Gamurrini gave me an altar-picture to execute, for which Rosso made me the design; and I then painted it with all the study, labour, and diligence that were possible to me, in order to learn and to acquire something of a name. And if my powers had equalled my good will, I would have soon become a passing good painter, so much I studied and laboured at the things of art; but I found the difficulties much greater than I had judged at the beginning.
However, not losing heart, I returned to Florence, where, perceiving that I could not save only after a long time become such as to be able to assist the three sisters and two younger brothers left to me by my [Pg 173] father, I placed myself with a goldsmith. But not for long, because in the year 1529, the enemy having come against Florence, I went off with the goldsmith Manno, who was very much my friend, to Pisa, where, setting aside the goldsmith's craft, I painted in fresco the arch that is over the door of the old Company of the Florentines, and some pictures in oils, which were given to me to execute by means of Don Miniato Pitti, at that time Abbot of Agnano without the city of Pisa, and of Luigi Guicciardini, who was then in that city. Then, the war growing every day more general, I resolved to return to Arezzo; but, not being able to go by the direct and ordinary road, I made my way by the mountains of Modena to Bologna. There, finding that some triumphal arches were being decorated in painting for the coronation of Charles V, young as I was I obtained some work, which brought me honour and profit; and since I drew passing well, I would have found means to live and work there. But the desire that I had to revisit my family and other relatives brought it about that, having found good company, I returned to Arezzo, where, finding my affairs in a good state after the diligent care taken of them by the above-named Don Antonio, my uncle, I settled down with a quiet mind and applied myself to design, executing also some little things in oils of no great importance. Meanwhile the above-named Don Miniato Pitti was made Abbot or Prior, I know not which, of S. Anna, a monastery of Monte Oliveto in the territory of Siena, and he sent for me; and so I made for him and for Albenga, their General, some pictures and other works in painting. Then, the same man having been made Abbot of S. Bernardo in Arezzo, I painted for him two pictures in oils of Job and Moses on the balustrade of the organ. And since the work pleased those monks, they commissioned me to paint some pictures in fresco—namely, the four Evangelists—on the vaulting and walls of a portico before the principal door of the church, with God the Father on the vaulting, and some other figures large as life; in which, although as a youth of little experience I did not do all that one more practised would have done, nevertheless I did all that I could, and work which pleased those fathers, having regard for my small experience and age. But scarcely had I finished that work when Cardinal Ippolito [Pg 174] de' Medici, passing through Arezzo by post, took me away to Rome to serve him, as has been related in the Life of Salviati; and there, by the courtesy of that lord, I had facilities to attend for many months to the study of design. And I could say with truth that those facilities and my studies at that time were my true and principal master in my art, although before that those named above had assisted me not a little; and there had not gone from my heart the ardent desire to learn, and the untiring zeal to be always drawing night and day. There was also of great benefit to me in those days the competition of my young contemporaries and companions, who have since become for the most part very excellent in our art. Nor was it otherwise than a very sharp spur to me to have such a desire of glory, and to see many who had proved themselves very rare, and had risen to honour and rank; so that I used to say to myself at times: "Why should it not be in my power to obtain by assiduous study and labour some of that grandeur and rank that so many others have acquired? They, also, were of flesh and bones, as I am."
Urged on, therefore, by so many sharp spurs, and by seeing how much need my family had of me, I disposed myself never to shrink from any fatigue, discomfort, vigil, and toil, in order to achieve that end; and, having thus resolved in my mind, there remained nothing notable at that time in Rome, or afterwards in Florence, and in other places where I dwelt, that I did not draw in my youth, and not pictures only, but also sculptures and architectural works ancient and modern. And besides the proficience that I made in drawing the vaulting and chapel of Michelagnolo, there remained nothing of Raffaello, Polidoro, and Baldassarre da Siena, that I did not likewise draw in company with Francesco Salviati, as has been told already in his Life. And to the end that each of us might have drawings of everything, during the day the one would not draw the same things as the other, but different, and then at night we used to copy each other's drawings, so as to save time and extend our studies; not to mention that more often than not we ate our morning meal standing up, and little at that. After which incredible labour, the first work that issued from my hands, as from my own forge, was a great [Pg 175] picture with figures large as life, of a Venus with the Graces adorning and beautifying her, which Cardinal de' Medici caused me to paint; but of that picture there is no need to speak, because it was the work of a lad, nor would I touch on it, save that it is dear to me to remember still these first beginnings and many upward steps of my apprenticeship in the arts. Enough that that lord and others gave me to believe that there was in it a certain something of a good beginning and of a lively and resolute spirit. And since among other things I had made therein to please my fancy a lustful Satyr who, standing hidden amid some bushes, was rejoicing and feasting himself on the sight of Venus and the Graces nude, that so pleased the Cardinal that he had me clothed anew from head to foot, and then gave orders that I should paint in a larger picture, likewise in oils, the battle of the Satyrs with the Fauns, Sylvan Gods, and children, forming a sort of Bacchanal; whereupon, setting to work, I made the cartoon and then sketched in the canvas in colours, which was ten braccia long. Having then to depart in the direction of Hungary, the Cardinal made me known to Pope Clement and left me to the protection of his Holiness, who gave me into the charge of Signor Jeronimo Montaguto, his Chamberlain, with letters authorizing that, if I might wish to fly from the air of Rome that summer, I should be received in Florence by Duke Alessandro; which it would have been well for me to do, because, choosing after all to stay in Rome, what with the heat, the air, and my fatigue, I fell sick in such sort that in order to be restored I was forced to have myself carried by litter to Arezzo. Finally, however, being well again, about the 10th of the following December I came to Florence, where I was received by the above-named Duke with kindly mien, and shortly afterwards given into the charge of the magnificent M. Ottaviano de' Medici, who so took me under his protection, that as long as he lived he treated me always as a son; and his blessed memory I shall always remember and revere, as of a most affectionate father. Returning then to my usual studies, I received facilities by means of that lord to enter at my pleasure into the new sacristy of S. Lorenzo, where are the works of Michelagnolo, he having gone in those days to Rome; and so I studied them for some time with much diligence, just as they [Pg 176] were on the ground. Then, setting myself to work, I painted in a picture of three braccia a Dead Christ carried to the Sepulchre by Nicodemus, Joseph, and others, and behind them the Maries weeping; which picture, when it was finished, was taken by Duke Alessandro. And it was a good and auspicious beginning for my labours, for the reason that not only did he hold it in account as long as he lived, but it has been ever since in the chamber of Duke Cosimo, and is now in that of the most illustrious Prince, his son; and although at times I have desired to set my hand upon it again, in order to improve it in some parts, I have not been allowed. Duke Alessandro, then, having seen this my first work, ordained that I should finish the ground-floor room in the Palace of the Medici which had been left incomplete, as has been related, by Giovanni da Udine. Whereupon I painted there four stories of the actions of Cæsar; his swimming with the Commentaries in one hand and a sword in the mouth, his causing the writings of Pompeius to be burned in order not to see the works of his enemies, his revealing himself to a helmsman while tossed by fortune on the sea, and, finally, his triumph; but this last was not completely finished. During which time, although I was but little more than eighteen years of age, the Duke gave me a salary of six crowns a month, a place at table for myself and a servant, and rooms to live in, with many other conveniences. And although I knew that I was very far from deserving so much, yet I did all that I could with diligence and lovingness, nor did I shrink from asking from my elders whatever I did not know myself; wherefore on many occasions I was assisted with counsel and with work by Tribolo, Bandinelli, and others. I painted, then, in a picture three braccia high, Duke Alessandro himself in armour, portrayed from life, with a new invention in a seat formed of captives bound together, and with other fantasies. And I remember that besides the portrait, which was a good likeness, in seeking to make the burnished surface of the armour bright, shining, and natural, I was not very far from losing my wits, so much did I exert myself in copying every least thing from the reality. However, despairing to be able to approach to the truth in the work, I took Jacopo da Pontormo, whom I revered for his great ability, to see it and to advise me; and he, having seen the [Pg 177] picture and perceived my agony, said to me lovingly: "My son, as long as this real lustrous armour stands beside the picture, your armour will always appear to you as painted, for, although lead-white is the most brilliant pigment that art employs, the iron is yet more brilliant and lustrous. Take away the real armour, and you will then see that your counterfeit armour is not such poor stuff as you think it."
That picture, when it was finished, I gave to the Duke, and the Duke presented it to M. Ottaviano de' Medici, in whose house it has been up to the present day, in company with the portrait of Caterina, the then young sister of the Duke, and afterwards Queen of France, and that of the Magnificent Lorenzo, the Elder. And in the same house are three pictures also by my hand and executed in my youth; in one is Abraham sacrificing Isaac, in the second Christ in the Garden, and in the third His Supper with the Apostles. Meanwhile Cardinal Ippolito died, in whom was centred the sum of all my hopes, and I began to recognize how vain generally are the hopes of this world, and that a man must trust mostly in himself and in being of some account. After these works, perceiving that the Duke was all given over to fortifications and to building, I began, the better to be able to serve him, to give attention to matters of architecture, and spent much time upon them. But meanwhile, festive preparations having to be made in Florence in the year 1536 for receiving the Emperor Charles V, the Duke, in giving orders for that, commanded the deputies charged with the care of those pomps, as has been related in the Life of Tribolo, that they should have me with them to design all the arches and other ornaments to be made for that entry. Which done, there was allotted to me for my benefit, besides the great banners of the castle and fortress, as has been told, the façade in the manner of a triumphal arch that was constructed at S. Felice in Piazza, forty braccia high and twenty wide, and then the ornamentation of the Porta a S. Piero Gattolini; works all great and beyond my strength. And, what was worse, those favours having drawn down upon me a thousand envious thoughts, about twenty men who were helping me to do the banners and the other labours left me nicely in the lurch, at the persuasion of one person or another, to the end that I might not be able [Pg 178] to execute works so many and of such importance. But I, who had foreseen the malice of such creatures (to whom I had always sought to give assistance), partly labouring with my own hand day and night, and partly aided by painters brought in from without, who helped me secretly, attended to my business, and strove to conquer all such difficulties and treacheries by means of the works themselves. During that time Bertoldo Corsini, who was then proveditor-general to his Excellency, had reported to the Duke that I had undertaken to do so many things that it would never be possible for me to have them finished in time, particularly because I had no men and the works were much in arrears. Whereupon the Duke sent for me, and told me what he had heard; and I answered that my works were well advanced, as his Excellency might see at his pleasure, and that the end would do credit to the whole. Then I went away, and no long time passed before he came secretly to where I was working, and, having seen everything, recognized in part the envy and malice of those who were pressing upon me without having any cause. The time having come when everything was to be in order, I had finished my works to the last detail and set them in their places, to the great satisfaction of the Duke and of all the city; whereas those of some who had thought more of my business than of their own, were set in place unfinished. When the festivities were over, besides four hundred crowns that were paid to me for my work, the Duke gave me three hundred that were taken away from those who had not carried their works to completion by the appointed time, according as had been arranged by agreement. And with those earnings and donations I married one of my sisters, and shortly afterwards settled another as a nun in the Murate at Arezzo, giving to the convent besides the dowry, or rather, alms, an altar-picture of the Annunciation by my hand, with a Tabernacle of the Sacrament accommodated in that picture, which was placed within their choir, where they perform their offices. Having then received from the Company of the Corpus Domini, at Arezzo, the commission for the altar-piece of the high-altar of S. Domenico, I painted in it Christ taken down from the Cross; and shortly afterwards I began for the Company of S. Rocco the altar-picture of their church, in Florence.
[Pg 179] Now, while I was going on winning for myself honour, name, and wealth under the protection of Duke Alessandro, that poor lord was cruelly murdered, and there was snatched away from me all hope of that which I was promising to myself from Fortune by means of his favour; wherefore, having been robbed within a few years of Clement, Ippolito, and Alessandro, I resolved at the advice of M. Ottaviano that I would never again follow the fortune of Courts, but only art, although it would have been easy to establish myself with Signor Cosimo de' Medici, the new Duke. And so, while carrying forward in Arezzo the above-named altar-picture and the façade of S. Rocco, with the ornament, I was making preparations to go to Rome, when by means of M. Giovanni Pollastra—and by the will of God, to whom I have always commended myself, and to whom I attribute and have always attributed my every blessing—I was invited to Camaldoli, the centre of the Camaldolese Congregation, by the fathers of that hermitage, to see that which they were designing to have done in their church. Arriving there, I found supreme pleasure in the Alpine and eternal solitude and quietness of that holy place; and although I became aware at the first moment that those fathers of venerable aspect were beside themselves at seeing me so young, I took heart and talked to them to such purpose, that they resolved that they would avail themselves of my hand in the many pictures in oils and in fresco that were to be painted in their church of Camaldoli. Now, while they wished that before any other thing I should execute the picture of the high-altar, I proved to them with good reasons that it was better to paint first one of the lesser pictures, which were going in the tramezzo, and that, having finished it, if it should please them, I would be able to continue. Besides that, I would not make any fixed agreement with them as to money, but said that if my work, when finished, were to please them, they might pay me for it as they chose, and, if it did not please them, they might return it to me, and I would keep it for myself most willingly; which condition appearing to them only too honest and loving, they were content that I should set my hand to the work. They said to me, then, that they wished to have [Pg 180] in it Our Lady with her Son in her arms, and S. John the Baptist and S. Jerome, who were both hermits and lived in woods and forests; and I departed from the hermitage and made my way down to their Abbey of Camaldoli, where, having made a design with great rapidity, which pleased them, I began the altar-piece, and in two months had it completely finished and set in place, to the great satisfaction of those fathers, as they gave me to understand, and of myself. And in that period of two months I proved how much more one is assisted in studies by sweet tranquillity and honest solitude than by the noises of public squares and courts; I recognized, I say, my error in having in the past placed my hopes in men and in the follies and intrigues of this world. That altar-picture finished, then, they allotted to me straightway the rest of the tramezzo of the church—namely, the scenes and other things in fresco-work to be painted there both high and low, which I was to execute during the following summer, for the reason that in the winter it would be scarcely possible to work in fresco at that altitude, among those mountains.
Meanwhile I returned to Arezzo and finished the altar-picture for S. Rocco, painting in it Our Lady, six Saints, and a God the Father with some thunderbolts in the hand, representing the pestilence, which He is in the act of hurling down, but S. Rocco and other Saints make intercession for the people. And in the façade are many figures in fresco, which, like the altar-picture, are no better than they should be. Then Fra Bartolommeo Gratiani, a friar of S. Agostino in Monte Sansovino, sent to invite me to Val di Caprese, and commissioned me to execute a great altar-piece in oils for the high-altar of the Church of S. Agostino in that same Monte Sansovino. And after we had come to an agreement, I made my way to Florence to see M. Ottaviano, where, staying several days, I had much ado to prevent myself from re-entering the service of the Court, as I was minded not to do. However, by advancing good reasons I won the battle, and I resolved that by hook or by crook, before doing anything else, I would go to Rome. But in that I did not succeed until I had made for that same Messer Ottaviano a copy of the picture in which formerly Raffaello da Urbino had portrayed Pope Leo, Cardinal [Pg 181] Giulio de' Medici, and Cardinal de' Rossi, for the Duke was claiming the original, which was then in the possession of Messer Ottaviano; and the copy that I made is now in the house of the heirs of that lord, who on my departure for Rome wrote me a letter of exchange for five hundred crowns on Giovan Battista Puccini, which he was to pay me on demand, and said to me: "Use this money to enable you to attend to your studies, and afterwards, when you find it convenient, you can return it to me either in work or in cash, just as you please." Arriving in Rome, then, in February of the year 1538, I stayed there until the end of June, giving my attention in company with Giovan Battista Cungi of the Borgo, my assistant, to drawing all that I had left not drawn the other times that I had been in Rome, and particularly everything that was in the underground grottoes. Nor did I leave anything either in architecture or in sculpture that I did not draw and measure, insomuch that I can say with truth that the drawings that I made in that space of time were more than three hundred; and for many years afterwards I found pleasure and advantage in examining them, refreshing the memory of the things of Rome. And how much those labours and studies benefited me, was seen after my return to Tuscany in the altar-picture that I executed at Monte Sansovino, in which I painted with a somewhat better manner the Assumption of Our Lady, and at the foot, besides the Apostles who are about the sepulchre, S. Augustine and S. Romualdo. Having then gone to Camaldoli, according as I had promised those eremite fathers, I painted in the other altar-piece of the tramezzo the Nativity of Jesus Christ, representing a night illumined by the Splendour of the newborn Christ, who is surrounded by some Shepherds adoring Him; in doing which, I strove to imitate with colours the rays of the sun, and copied the figures and all the other things in that work from Nature and in the proper light, to the end that they might be as similar as possible to the reality. Then, since that light could not pass above the hut, from there upwards and all around I availed myself of a light that comes from the splendour of the Angels that are in the air, singing Gloria in Excelsis Deo; not to mention that in certain places the Shepherds that are around make light with [Pg 182] burning sheaves of straw, and also the Moon and the Star, and the Angel that is appearing to certain Shepherds. For the building, then, I made some antiquities after my own fancy, with broken statues and other things of that kind. In short, I executed that work with all my power and knowledge, and although I did not satisfy with the hand and the brush my great desire and eagerness to work supremely well, nevertheless the picture has pleased many; wherefore Messer Fausto Sabeo, a man of great learning who was then custodian of the Pope's Library, and some others after him, wrote many Latin verses in praise of that picture, moved perhaps more by affectionate feeling than by the excellence of the work. Be that as it may, if there be in it anything of the good, it was the gift of God. That altar-picture finished, those fathers resolved that I should paint in fresco on the façade the stories that were to be there, whereupon I painted over the door a picture of the hermitage, with S. Romualdo and a Doge of Venice who was a saintly man on one side, and on the other a vision which the above-named Saint had in that place where he afterwards made his hermitage; with some fantasies, grotesques, and other things that are to be seen there. Which done, they ordained that I should return in the summer of the following year to execute the picture of the high-altar.
Meanwhile the above-named Don Miniato Pitti, who was then Visitor to the Congregation of Monte Oliveto, having seen the altar-picture of Monte Sansovino and the works of Camaldoli, and finding in Bologna the Florentine Don Filippo Serragli, Abbot of S. Michele in Bosco, said to him that, since the refectory of that honoured monastery was to be painted, it appeared to him that the work should be allotted to me and not to another. Being therefore summoned to go to Bologna, I undertook to do it, although it was a great and important work; but first I desired to see all the most famous works in painting that were in that city, both by Bolognese and by others. The work of the head-wall of that refectory was divided into three pictures; in one was to be when Abraham prepared food for the Angels in the Valley of Mamre, in the second Christ in the house of Mary Magdalene and Martha, speaking with Martha, and saying to her that Mary had chosen the [Pg 183] better part, and in the third was to be S. Gregory at table with twelve poor men, among whom he recognized one as Christ. Then, setting my hand to the work, I depicted in the last S. Gregory at table in a convent, served by White Friars of that Order, that I might be able to include those fathers therein, according to their wish. Besides that, I made in the figure of that saintly Pontiff the likeness of Pope Clement VII, and about him, among many Lords, Ambassadors, Princes, and other personages who stand there to see him eat, I portrayed Duke Alessandro de' Medici, in memory of the benefits and favours that I had received from him, and of his having been what he was, and with him many of my friends. And among those who are serving the poor men at table, I portrayed some friars of that convent with whom I was intimate, such as the strangers' attendants who waited upon me, the dispenser, the cellarer, and others of the kind; and so, also, the Abbot Serragli, the General Don Cipriano da Verona, and Bentivoglio. In like manner, I copied the vestments of that Pontiff from the reality, counterfeiting velvets, damasks, and other draperies of silk and gold of every kind; but the service of the table, vases, animals, and other things, I caused to be executed by Cristofano of the Borgo, as was told in his Life. In the second scene I sought to make the heads, draperies, and buildings not only different from the first, but in such a manner as to make as clearly evident as possible the lovingness of Christ in instructing the Magdalene, and the affection and readiness of Martha in arranging the table, and her lamentation at being left alone by her sister in such labours and service; to say nothing of the attentiveness of the Apostles, and of many other things worthy of consideration in that picture. As for the third scene, I painted the three Angels—coming to do this I know not how—within a celestial light which seems to radiate from them, while the rays of the sun surround the cloud in which they are. Of the three Angels the old Abraham is adoring one, although those that he sees are three; while Sarah stands laughing and wondering how that can come to pass which has been promised to her, and Hagar, with Ishmael in her arms, is departing from the hospitable shelter. The same radiance also gives light to some servants who are preparing the table, among [Pg 184] whom are some who, not being able to endure that splendour, place their hands over their eyes and seek to shade themselves. Which variety of things, since strong shadows and brilliant lights give greater force to pictures, caused this one to have more relief than the other two, and, the colours being varied, they produced a very different effect. But would I had been able to carry my conception into execution, even as both then and afterwards, with new inventions and fantasies, I was always seeking out the laborious and difficult in art. This work, then, whatever it may be, was executed by me in eight months, together with a frieze in fresco, architectural ornaments, carvings, seat-backs, panels, and other adornments over the whole work and the whole refectory; and the price of all I was content to make two hundred crowns, as one who aspired more to glory than to gain. Wherefore M. Andrea Alciati, my very dear friend, who was then reading in Bologna, caused these words to be placed at the foot:
OCTONIS MENSIBUS OPUS AB ARETINO GEORGIO PICTUM, NON TAM PRECIO QUAM AMICORUM OBSEQUIS ET HONORIS VOTO, ANNO 1539 PHILIPPUS SERRALIUS PON. CURAVIT.
At this same time I executed two little altar-pictures, of the Dead Christ and of the Resurrection, which were placed by the Abbot Don Miniato Pitti in the Church of S. Maria di Barbiano, without San Gimignano in Valdelsa. Which works finished, I returned straightway to Florence, for the reason that Treviso, Maestro Biagio, and other Bolognese painters, thinking that I was seeking to establish myself in Bologna and to take their works and commissions out of their hands, kept molesting me unceasingly; but they did more harm to themselves than to me, and their envious ways moved me to laughter. In Florence, then, I copied for M. Ottaviano a large portrait of Cardinal Ippolito down to the knees, and other pictures, with which I kept myself occupied until the insupportable heat of summer. Which having come, I returned to the quiet and freshness of Camaldoli, in order to execute the above-mentioned altar-piece of the high-altar. In that work I painted a Christ taken down from the Cross, with the greatest study and labour that were [Pg 185] within my power; and since, in the course of the work and of time, it seemed necessary to me to improve certain things, and I was not satisfied with the first sketch, I gave it another priming and repainted it all anew, as it is now to be seen, and then, attracted by the solitude and staying in that same place, I executed there a picture for the same Messer Ottaviano, in which I painted a young S. John, nude, among some rocks and crags that I copied from Nature among those mountains. And I had scarcely finished these works when there arrived in Camaldoli Messer Bindo Altoviti, who wished to arrange a transportation of great fir-trees to Rome by way of the Tiber, for the fabric of S. Pietro, from the Cella di S. Alberigo, a place belonging to those fathers; and he, seeing all the works executed by me in that place, and by my good fortune liking them, resolved, before he departed thence, that I should paint an alter-picture for his Church of S. Apostolo in Florence. Wherefore, having finished that of Camaldoli, with the façade of the chapel in fresco (wherein I made the experiment of combining work in oil-colours with the other, and succeeded passing well), I made my way to Florence, and there executed that altar-picture. Now, having to give a proof of my powers in Florence, where I had not yet executed such a work, and having many rivals, and also a desire to acquire a name, I resolved that I would do my utmost in that work and put into it all the diligence that I might find possible. And in order to be able to do that free from every vexatious thought, I first married my third sister and bought a house already begun in Arezzo, with a site for making most beautiful gardens, in the Borgo di S. Vito, in the best air of that city. In October, then, of the year 1540, I began the altar-picture for Messer Bindo, proposing to paint in it a scene that should represent the Conception of Our Lady, according to the title of the chapel; which subject presenting no little difficulty to me, Messer Bindo and I took the opinions of many common friends, men of learning, and finally I executed it in the following manner. Having depicted the Tree of the Primal Sin in the middle of the picture, I painted at its roots Adam and Eve naked and bound, as the first transgressors of the commandment of God, and then one by one, bound to the other branches, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, [Pg 186] Joshua, David, and the other Kings in succession, according to the order of time; all, I say, bound by both arms, excepting Samuel and John the Baptist, who are bound by one arm only, because they were blessed in the womb. I painted there, also, with the tail wound about the trunk of the Tree, the Ancient Serpent, who, having a human form from the middle upwards, has the hands bound behind; and upon his head, treading upon his horns, is one foot of the glorious Virgin, who has the other on a Moon, being herself all clothed with the Sun, and crowned with twelve stars. The Virgin, I say, is supported in the air, within a Splendour, by many nude little Angels, who are illumined by the rays that come from her; which rays, likewise, passing through the leaves of the Tree, shed light upon those bound to it, and appear to be loosing their bonds by means of the virtue and grace that they bring from her from whom they proceed. And in the heaven, at the top of the picture, are two children that are holding certain scrolls, in which are written these words: QUOS EVÆ CULPA DAMNAVIT, MARIÆ GRATIA SOLVIT. In short, so far as I can remember, I had not executed any work up to that time with more study or with more lovingness and labour; but all the same, while I may perhaps have satisfied others, I did not satisfy myself, although I know the time, study, and labour that I devoted to it, particularly to the nudes and heads, and, indeed, to every part.
For the labours of that picture Messer Bindo gave me three hundred crowns of gold, besides which, in the following year, he showed me so many courtesies and kindnesses in his house in Rome, where I made him a copy of the same altar-piece in a little picture, almost in miniature, that I shall always feel an obligation to his memory. At the same time that I painted that picture, which was placed, as I have said, in S. Apostolo, I executed for M. Ottaviano de' Medici a Venus and a Leda from the cartoons of Michelagnolo, and in a large picture a S. Jerome in Penitence of the size of life, who, contemplating the death of Christ, whom he has before him on the Cross, is beating his breast in order to drive from his mind the thoughts of Venus and the temptations of the flesh, which at times tormented him, although he lived in woods and places wild and solitary, as he relates of himself at great length. To demonstrate [Pg 187] which I made a Venus who with Love in her arms is flying from that contemplation, and holding Play by the hand, while the quiver and arrows have fallen to the ground; besides which, the shafts shot by Cupid against that Saint return to him all broken, and some that fall are brought back to him by the doves of Venus in their beaks. All these pictures, although perhaps at that time they pleased me, and were made by me as best I knew, I know not how much they please me at my present age; but, since art in herself is difficult, it is necessary to take from him who paints the best that he can do. This, indeed, I will say, because I can say it with truth, that I have always executed my pictures, inventions, and designs, whatever may be their value, I do not say only with the greatest possible rapidity, but also with incredible facility and without effort; for which let me call to witness, as I have mentioned in another place, the vast canvas that I painted in six days only, for S. Giovanni in Florence, in the year 1542, for the baptism of the Lord Don Francesco de' Medici, now Prince of Florence and Siena.
Now although I wished after these works to go to Rome, in order to satisfy Messer Bindo Altoviti, I did not succeed in doing it, because, being summoned to Venice by Messer Pietro Aretino, a poet of illustrious name at that time, and much my friend, I was forced to go there, since he much desired to see me. And, moreover, I did it willingly, in order to see on that journey the works of Tiziano and of other painters; in which purpose I succeeded, for in a few days I saw the works of Correggio at Modena and Parma, those of Giulio Romano at Mantua, and the antiquities of Verona. Having finally arrived in Venice, with two pictures painted by my hand from cartoons by Michelagnolo, I presented them to Don Diego di Mendoza, who sent me two hundred crowns of gold. Nor had I been long in Venice, when at the entreaty of Aretino I executed for the gentlemen of the Calza the scenic setting for a festival that they gave, wherein I had as my companions Battista Cungi and Cristofano Gherardi of Borgo a San Sepolcro and Bastiano Flori of Arezzo, men very able and well practised, of all which enough has been said in another place; and also the nine painted compartments in the Palace of Messer Giovanni Cornaro, which are in the soffit of a chamber in that Palace, [Pg 188] which is by S. Benedetto. After these and other works of no little importance that I executed in Venice at that time, I departed, although I was overwhelmed by the commissions that were coming to me, on the 16th of August in the year 1542, and returned to Tuscany. There, before consenting to put my hand to any other thing, I painted on the vaulting of a chamber that had been built by my orders in my house which I have already mentioned, all the arts that are subordinate to or depend upon design. In the centre is a Fame who is seated upon the globe of the world and sounds a golden trumpet, throwing away one of fire that represents Calumny, and about her, in due order, are all those arts with their instruments in their hands; and since I had not time to do the whole, I left eight ovals, in order to paint in them eight portraits from life of the first men in our arts. In those same days I executed in fresco for the Nuns of S. Margherita in the same city, in a chapel of their garden, a Nativity of Christ with figures the size of life. And having thus passed the rest of that summer in my own country, and part of the autumn, I went to Rome, where, having been received by the above-named Messer Bindo with many kindnesses, I painted for him in a picture in oils a Christ the size of life, taken down from the Cross and laid on the ground at the feet of His Mother; with Phœbus in the air obscuring the face of the Sun, and Diana that of the Moon. In the landscape, all darkened by that gloom, some rocky mountains, shaken by the earthquake that was caused by the Passion of the Saviour, are seen shivered into pieces, and certain dead bodies of Saints are seen rising again and issuing from their sepulchres in various manners; which picture, when finished, was not displeasing to the gracious judgment of the greatest painter, sculptor, and architect that there has been in our times, and perchance in the past. By means of that picture, also, I became known to the most illustrious Cardinal Farnese, to whom it was shown by Giovio and Messer Bindo; and at his desire I made for him, in a picture eight braccia high and four broad, a Justice who is embracing an ostrich laden with the twelve Tables, and with the sceptre that has the stork at the point, and the head covered by a helmet of iron and gold, with three feathers of three different colours, the device of the just judge. She is [Pg 189] wholly nude from the waist upwards, and she has bound to her girdle with chains of gold, as captives, the seven Vices that are opposed to her, Corruption, Ignorance, Cruelty, Fear, Treachery, Falsehood, and Calumny. Above these, upon their shoulders, is placed Truth wholly nude, offered by Time to Justice, with a present of two doves representing Innocence. And upon the head of that Truth Justice is placing a crown of oak, signifying fortitude of mind; which whole work I executed with all care and diligence, according to the best of my ability. At this same time I paid constant attention to Michelagnolo Buonarroti, and took his advice in all my works, and he in his goodness conceived much more affection for me; and his counsel, after he had seen some of my designs, was the reason that I gave myself anew and with better method to the study of the matters of architecture, which probably I would never have done if that most excellent man had not said to me what he did say, which out of modesty I forbear to tell.
At the next festival of S. Peter, the heat being very great in Rome, where I had spent all that winter of 1543, I returned to Florence, where in the house of Messer Ottaviano de' Medici, which I could call my own, I executed in an altar-piece for M. Biagio Mei of Lucca, his gossip, the same conception as in that of Messer Bindo in S. Apostolo, although I varied everything with the exception of the invention; and that picture, when finished, was placed in his chapel in S. Piero Cigoli at Lucca. In another of the same size—namely, seven braccia high and four broad—I painted Our Lady, S. Jerome, S. Luke, S. Cecilia, S. Martha, S. Augustine, and S. Guido the Hermit; which altar-picture was placed in the Duomo of Pisa, where there were many others by the hands of excellent masters. And I had scarcely carried that one to completion, when the Warden of Works of that Duomo commissioned me to execute another, in which, since it was to be likewise of Our Lady, in order to vary it from the other I painted the Madonna with the Dead Christ at the foot of the Cross, lying in her lap, the Thieves on high upon their crosses, and, grouped with the Maries and Nicodemus, who are standing there, the titular Saints of those chapels, all forming a good composition and rendering the scene in that picture pleasing. Having returned again [Pg 190] to Rome in the year 1544, besides many pictures that I executed for various friends, of which there is no need to make mention, I made a picture of a Venus from a design by Michelagnolo for M. Bindo Altoviti, who took me once more into his house; and for Galeotto da Girone, a Florentine merchant, I painted an altar-picture in oils of Christ taken down from the Cross, which was placed in his chapel in the Church of S. Agostino at Rome. In order to be able to paint that picture in comfort, together with some works that had been allotted to me by Tiberio Crispo, the Castellan of Castel S. Angelo, I had withdrawn by myself to that palace in the Trastevere which was formerly built by Bishop Adimari, below S. Onofrio, and which has since been finished by the second Salviati; but, feeling indisposed and wearied by my infinite labours, I was forced to return to Florence. There I executed some pictures, and among others one in which were Dante, Petrarca, Guido Cavalcanti, Boccaccio, Cino da Pistoia, and Guittone d'Arezzo, accurately copied from their ancient portraits; and of that picture, which afterwards belonged to Luca Martini, many copies have since been made.
In that same year of 1544 I was invited to Naples by Don Giammateo of Aversa, General of the Monks of Monte Oliveto, to the end that I might paint the refectory of a monastery built for them by King Alfonso I; but when I arrived, I was for not accepting the work, seeing that the refectory and the whole monastery were built in an ancient manner of architecture, with the vaults in pointed arches, low and poor in lights, and I doubted that I was like to win little honour thereby. However, being pressed by Don Miniato Pitti and Don Ippolito da Milano, my very dear friends, who were then Visitors to that Order, finally I accepted the undertaking. Whereupon, recognizing that I would not be able to do anything good save only with a great abundance of ornaments, dazzling the eyes of all who might see the work with a variety and multitude of figures, I resolved to have all the vaulting of the refectory wrought in stucco, in order to remove by means of rich compartments in the modern manner all the old-fashioned and clumsy appearance of those arches. In this I was much assisted by the vaults and walls, which are made, as is usual in that city, of blocks of tufa, which [Pg 191] cut like wood, or even better, like bricks not completely baked; and thus, cutting them, I was able to sink squares, ovals, and octagons, and also to thicken them with additions of the same tufa by means of nails. Having then reduced those vaults to good proportions with that stucco-work, which was the first to be wrought in Naples in the modern manner, and in particular the façades and end-walls of that refectory, I painted there six panels in oils, seven braccia high, three to each end-wall. In three that are over the entrance of the refectory is the Manna raining down upon the Hebrew people, in the presence of Moses and Aaron, and the people gathering it up; wherein I strove to represent a variety of attitudes and vestments in the men, women, and children, and the emotion wherewith they are gathering up and storing the Manna, rendering thanks to God. On the end-wall that is at the head is Christ at table in the house of Simon, and Mary Magdalene with tears washing His feet and drying them with her hair, showing herself all penitent for her sins; which story is divided into three pictures, in the centre the supper, on the right hand a buttery with a credence full of vases in various fantastic forms, and on the left hand a steward who is bringing up the viands. The vaulting, then, was divided into three parts; in one the subject is Faith, in the second Religion, and in the third Eternity, and each of these forms a centre with eight Virtues about it, demonstrating to the monks that in that refectory they eat what is requisite for the perfection of their lives. To enrich the spaces of the vaulting, I made them full of grotesques, which serve as ornaments in forty-eight spaces for the forty-eight celestial signs; and on six walls down the length of that refectory, under the windows, which were made larger and richly ornamented, I painted six of the Parables of Jesus Christ which are in keeping with that place; and to all those pictures and ornaments there correspond the carvings of the seats, which are wrought very richly. And then I executed for the high-altar of the church an altar-picture eight braccia high, containing the Madonna presenting the Infant Jesus Christ to Simeon in the Temple, with a new invention. It is a notable thing that since Giotto there had not been up to that time, in a city so great and noble, any masters who had done anything of importance in painting, although there [Pg 192] had been brought there from without some things by the hands of Perugino and Raffaello. On which account I exerted myself to labour in such a manner, in so far as my little knowledge could reach, that the intellects of that country might be roused to execute great and honourable works; and, whether that or some other circumstance may have been the reason, between that time and the present day many very beautiful works have been done there, both in stucco and in painting. Besides the pictures described above, I executed in fresco on the vaulting of the strangers' apartment in the same monastery, with figures large as life, Jesus Christ with the Cross on His shoulder, and many of His Saints who have one likewise on their shoulders in imitation of Him, to demonstrate that for one who wishes truly to follow Him it is necessary to bear with good patience the adversities that the world inflicts. For the General of that Order I executed a great picture of Christ appearing to the Apostles as they struggled with the perils of the sea, and taking S. Peter by the arm, who, having hastened towards Him through the water, was fearing to drown; and in another picture, for Abbot Capeccio, I painted the Resurrection. These works carried to completion, I painted a chapel in fresco for the Lord Don Pietro di Toledo, Viceroy of Naples, in his garden at Pozzuolo, besides executing some very delicate ornaments in stucco; and arrangements had been made to execute two great loggie for the same lord, but the undertaking was not carried into effect, for the following reason. There had been some difference between the Viceroy and the above-named monks, and the Constable went with his men to the monastery to seize the Abbot and some monks who had had some words with the Black Friars in a procession, over a matter of precedence. But the monks made some resistance, assisted by about fifteen young men who were assisting me in stucco-work and painting, and wounded some of the bailiffs; on which account it became necessary to get them out of the way, and they went off in various directions. And so I, left almost alone, was unable not only to execute the loggie at Pozzuolo, but also to paint twenty-four pictures of stories from the Old Testament and from the life of S. John the Baptist, which, not caring to remain any longer in Naples, I took to Rome to finish, whence I sent them, and they [Pg 193] were placed about the stalls and over the presses of walnut-wood made from my architectural designs in the Sacristy of S. Giovanni Carbonaro, a convent of Eremite and Observantine Friars of S. Augustine, for whom I had painted a short time before, for a chapel without their church, a panel-picture of Christ Crucified, with a rich and varied ornament of stucco, at the request of Seripando, their General, who afterwards became a Cardinal. In like manner, half-way up the staircase of the same convent, I painted in fresco a S. John the Evangelist who stands gazing at Our Lady clothed with the sun and crowned with twelve stars, with her feet upon the moon. In the same city I painted for Messer Tommaso Cambi, a Florentine merchant and very much my friend, the times and seasons of the year on four walls in the hall of his house, with pictures of Sleep and Dreaming over a terrace where I made a fountain. And for the Duke of Gravina I painted an altar-picture of the Magi adoring Christ, which he took to his dominions; and for Orsanca, Secretary to the Viceroy, I executed another altar-piece with five figures around a Christ Crucified, and many pictures.
But, although I was regarded with favour by those lords and was earning much, and my commissions were multiplying every day, I judged, since my men had departed and I had executed works in abundance in one year in that city, that it would be well for me to return to Rome. Which having done, the first work that I executed was for Signor Ranuccio Farnese, at that time Archbishop of Naples; painting on canvas and in oils four very large shutters for the organ of the Piscopio in Naples, on the front of which are five Patron Saints of that city, and on the inner side the Nativity of Jesus Christ, with the Shepherds, and King David singing to his psaltery, DOMINUS DIXIT AD ME, etc. And I finished likewise the twenty-four pictures mentioned above and some for M. Tommaso Cambi, which were all sent to Naples; which done, I painted five pictures of the Passion of Christ for Raffaello Acciaiuoli, who took them to Spain. In the same year, Cardinal Farnese being minded to cause the Hall of the Cancelleria, in the Palace of S. Giorgio, to be painted, Monsignor Giovio, desiring that it should be done by my hands, commissioned me to make many designs with various inventions, which in [Pg 194] the end were not carried into execution. Nevertheless the Cardinal finally resolved that it should be painted in fresco, and with the greatest rapidity that might be possible, so that he might be able to use it at a certain time determined by himself. That hall is a little more than a hundred palms in length, fifty in breadth, and the same in height. On each end-wall, fifty palms broad, was painted a great scene, and two on one of the long walls, but on the other, from its being broken by windows, it was not possible to paint scenes, and therefore there was made a pendant after the likeness of the head-wall opposite. And not wishing to make a base, as had been the custom up to that time with the craftsmen in all their scenes, in order to introduce variety and do something new I caused flights of steps to rise from the floor to a height of at least nine palms, made in various ways, one to each scene; and upon these, then, there begin to ascend figures that I painted in keeping with the subject, little by little, until they come to the level where the scene begins. It would be a long and perhaps tedious task to describe all the particulars and minute details of those scenes, and therefore I shall touch only on the principal things, and that briefly. In all of them, then, are stories of the actions of Pope Paul III, and in each is his portrait from life. In the first, wherein are the Dispatchings, so to speak, of the Court of Rome, may be seen upon the Tiber various embassies of various nations (with many portraits from life) that are come to seek favours from the Pope and to offer him divers tributes; and, in addition, two great figures in great niches placed over the doors, which are on either side of the scene. One of these represents Eloquence, and has above it two Victories that uphold the head of Julius Cæsar, and the other represents Justice, with two other Victories that hold the head of Alexander the Great; and in the centre are the arms of the above-named Pope, supported by Liberality and Remuneration. On the main wall is the same Pope remunerating merit, distributing salaries, knighthoods, benefices, pensions, bishoprics, and Cardinal's hats, and among those who are receiving them are Sadoleto, Polo, Bembo, Contarini, Giovio, Buonarroti, and other men of excellence, all portrayed from life, and on that wall, within a great niche, is Grace with a horn of plenty full of dignities, which she is pouring out upon the [Pg 195] earth, and the Victories that she has above her, after the likeness of the others, support the head of the Emperor Trajan. There is also Envy, who is devouring vipers and appears to be bursting with venom; and above, at the top of the scene, are the arms of Cardinal Farnese, supported by Fame and Virtue. In the other scene the same Pope Paul is seen all intent on his buildings, and in particular on that of S. Pietro upon the Vatican, and therefore there are kneeling before the Pope Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, who, having unfolded a design of the ground-plan of that S. Pietro, are receiving orders to execute the work and to carry it to completion. Besides these figures, there is Resolution, who, opening the breast, lays bare the heart; with Solicitude and Riches near. In a niche is Abundance, with two Victories that hold the effigy of Vespasian, and in the centre, in another niche that divides one scene from the other, is Christian Religion, with two Victories above her that hold the head of Numa Pompilius; and the arms that are above the scene are those of Cardinal San Giorgio, who built that Palace. In the other scene, which is opposite to that of the Dispatchings of the Court, is the universal peace made among Christians by the agency of Pope Paul III, and particularly between the Emperor Charles V and Francis, King of France, who are portrayed there; wherefore there may be seen Peace burning arms, the Temple of Janus being closed, and Fury in chains. Of the two great niches that are on either side of the scene, in one is Concord, with two Victories above her that are holding the head of the Emperor Titus, and in the other is Charity with many children, while above the niche are two Victories holding the head of Augustus; and over all are the arms of Charles V, supported by Victory and Rejoicing. The whole work is full of the most beautiful inscriptions and mottoes composed by Giovio, and there is one in particular which says that those pictures were all executed in a hundred days; which, indeed, like a young man, I did do, being such that I gave no thought to anything but satisfying that lord, who, as I have said, desired to have the work finished in that time for a particular purpose. But in truth, although I exerted myself greatly in making cartoons and studying that work, I confess that I did wrong in putting it afterwards in the hands of assistants, [Pg 196] in order to execute it more quickly, as I was obliged to do; for it would have been better to toil over it a hundred months and do it with my own hand, whereby, although I would not have done it in such a way as to satisfy my wish to please the Cardinal and to maintain my own honour, I would at least have had the satisfaction of having executed it with my own hand. However, that error was the reason that I resolved that I would never again do any work without finishing it entirely by myself over a first sketch done by the hands of assistants from designs by my hand. In that work the Spaniards, Bizzerra and Roviale, who laboured much in it in my company, gained no little practice; and also Battista da Bagnacavallo of Bologna, Bastiano Flori of Arezzo, Giovan Paolo dal Borgo, Fra Salvadore Foschi of Arezzo, and many other young men.
At that time I went often in the evening, at the end of the day's work, to see the above-named most illustrious Cardinal Farnese at supper, where there were always present, to entertain him with beautiful and honourable discourse, Molza, Annibale Caro, M. Gandolfo, M. Claudio Tolomei, M. Romolo Amaseo, Monsignor Giovio, and many other men of learning and distinction, of whom the Court of that Lord is ever full. One evening among others the conversation turned to the museum of Giovio and to the portraits of illustrious men that he had placed therein with beautiful order and inscriptions; and one thing leading to another, as happens in conversation, Monsignor Giovio said that he had always had and still had a great desire to add to his museum and his book of Eulogies a treatise with an account of the men who had been illustrious in the art of design from Cimabue down to our own times. Enlarging on this, he showed that he had certainly great knowledge and judgment in the matters of our arts; but it is true that, being content to treat the subject in gross, he did not consider it in detail, and often, in speaking of those craftsmen, either confused their names, surnames, birthplaces, and works, or did not relate things exactly as they were, but rather, as I have said, in gross. When Giovio had finished his discourse, the Cardinal turned to me and said: "What do you say, Giorgio? Will not that be a fine work and a noble labour?" "Fine, indeed, most illustrious Excellency," [Pg 197] I answered, "if Giovio be assisted by someone of our arts to put things in their places and relate them as they really are. That I say because, although his discourse has been marvellous, he has confused and mistaken many things one for another." "Then," replied the Cardinal, being besought by Giovio, Caro, Tolomei, and the others, "you might give him a summary and an ordered account of all those craftsmen and their works, according to the order of time; and so your arts will receive from you this benefit as well." That undertaking, although I knew it to be beyond my powers, I promised most willingly to execute to the best of my ability; and so, having set myself down to search through my records and the notes that I had written on that subject from my earliest youth, as a sort of pastime and because of the affection that I bore to the memory of our craftsmen, every notice of whom was very dear to me, I gathered together everything that seemed to me to touch on the subject, and took the whole to Giovio. And he, after he had much praised my labour, said to me: "Giorgio, I would rather that you should undertake this task of setting everything down in the manner in which I see that you will be excellently well able to do it, because I have not the courage, not knowing the various manners, and being ignorant of many particulars that you are likely to know; besides which, even if I were to do it, I would make at the most a little treatise like that of Pliny. Do what I tell you, Vasari, for I see by the specimen that you have given me in this account that it will prove something very fine." And then, thinking that I was not very resolute in the matter, he caused Caro, Molza, Tolomei, and others of my dearest friends to speak to me. Whereupon, having finally made up my mind, I set my hand to it, with the intention of giving it, when finished, to one of them, that he might revise and correct it, and then publish it under a name other than mine.
Meanwhile I departed from Rome in the month of October of the year 1546, and came to Florence, and there executed for the Nuns of the famous Convent of the Murate a picture in oils of a Last Supper for their refectory; which work was allotted to me and paid for by Pope Paul III, who had a sister-in-law, once Countess of Pitigliano, a nun in that convent. And then I painted in another picture Our Lady with the Infant Christ [Pg 198] in her arms, who is espousing the Virgin-Martyr S. Catharine, with two other Saints; which picture M. Tommaso Cambi caused me to execute for a sister who was then Abbess of the Convent of the Bigallo, without Florence. That finished, I painted two large pictures in oils for Monsignor de' Rossi, Bishop of Pavia, of the family of the Counts of San Secondo; in one of these is a S. Jerome, and in the other a Pietà, and they were both sent to France. Then in the year 1547 I carried to completion for the Duomo of Pisa, at the instance of M. Bastiano della Seta, the Warden of Works, another altar-picture that I had begun; and afterwards, for my very dear friend Simon Corsi, a large picture in oils of Our Lady. Now, while I was executing these works, having carried nearly to completion the Book of the Lives of the Craftsmen of Design, there was scarcely anything left for me to do but to have it transcribed in a good hand, when there presented himself to me most opportunely Don Gian Matteo Faetani of Rimini, a monk of Monte Oliveto and a person of intelligence and learning, who desired that I should execute some works for him in the Church and Monastery of S. Maria di Scolca at Rimini, where he was Abbot. He, then, having promised to have it transcribed for me by one of his monks who was an excellent writer, and to correct it himself, persuaded me to go to Rimini to execute, with this occasion, the altar-picture and the high-altar of that church, which is about three miles distant from the city. In that altar-picture I painted the Magi adoring Christ, with an infinity of figures executed by me with much study in that solitary place, counterfeiting the men of the Courts of the three Kings in such a way, as well as I was able, that, although they are all mingled together, yet one may recognize by the appearance of the faces to what country each belongs and to which King he is subject, for some have the flesh-colour white, some grey, and others dark; besides which, the diversity of their vestments and the differences in their adornments make a pleasing variety. That altar-piece has on either side of it two large pictures, in which is the rest of the Courts, with horses, elephants, and giraffes, and about the chapel, in various places, are distributed Prophets, Sibyls, and Evangelists in the act of writing. In the cupola, or rather, tribune, I painted four great figures that treat of the praises [Pg 199] of Christ, of His Genealogy, and of the Virgin, and these are Orpheus and Homer with some Greek mottoes, Virgil with the motto, IAM REDIT ET VIRGO, etc., and Dante with these verses:
Tu sei colei, che l' umana natura
Nobilitasti sì, che il suo Fattore
Non si sdegnò di farsi tua fattura.
With many other figures and inventions, of which there is no need to say any more. Then, the work of writing the above-mentioned book and carrying it to completion meanwhile continuing, I painted for the high-altar of S. Francesco, in Rimini, a large altar-picture in oils of S. Francis receiving the Stigmata from Christ on the mountain of La Vernia, copied from nature; and since that mountain is all of grey rocks and stones, and in like manner S. Francis and his companion are grey, I counterfeited a Sun within which is Christ, with a good number of Seraphim, and so the work is varied, and the Saint, with other figures, all illumined by the splendour of that Sun, and the landscape in shadow with a great variety of changing colours; all which is not displeasing to many persons, and was much extolled at that time by Cardinal Capodiferro, Legate in Romagna.
Being then summoned from Rimini to Ravenna, I executed an altar-picture, as has been told in another place, for the new church of the Abbey of Classi, of the Order of Camaldoli, painting therein a Christ taken down from the Cross and lying in the lap of Our Lady. And at this same time I executed for divers friends many designs, pictures, and other lesser works, which are so many and so varied, that it would be difficult for me to remember even a part of them, and perhaps not pleasing for my readers to hear so many particulars.
Meanwhile the building of my house at Arezzo had been finished, and I returned home, where I made designs for painting the hall, three chambers, and the façade, as it were for my own diversion during that summer. In those designs I depicted, among other things, all the places and provinces where I had laboured, as if they were bringing tributes, to represent the gains that I had made by their means, to that house of [Pg 200] mine. For the time being, however, I did nothing but the ceiling of the hall, which is passing rich in woodwork, with thirteen large pictures wherein are the Celestial Gods, and in four angles the four Seasons of the year nude, who are gazing at a great picture that is in the centre, in which, with figures the size of life, is Excellence, who has Envy under her feet and has seized Fortune by the hair, and is beating both the one and the other; and a thing that was much commended at the time was that as you go round the hall, Fortune being in the middle, from one side Envy seems to be over Fortune and Excellence, and from another side Excellence is over Envy and Fortune, as is seen often to happen in real life. Around the walls are Abundance, Liberality, Wisdom, Prudence, Labour, Honour, and other similar things, and below, all around, are stories of ancient painters, Apelles, Zeuxis, Parrhasius, Protogenes, and others, with various compartments and details that I omit for the sake of brevity. In a chamber, also, in a great medallion in the ceiling of carved woodwork, I painted Abraham, with God blessing his seed and promising to multiply it infinitely; and in four squares that are around that medallion, I painted Peace, Concord, Virtue, and Modesty. And since I always adored the memory and the works of the ancients, and perceived that the method of painting in distemper-colours was being abandoned, there came to me a desire to revive that mode of painting, and I executed the whole work in distemper; which method certainly does not deserve to be wholly despised or abandoned. At the entrance of the chamber, as it were in jest, I painted a bride who has in one hand a rake, with which she seems to have raked up and carried away with her from her father's house everything that she has been able, and in the hand that is stretched in front of her, entering into the house of her husband, she has a lighted torch, signifying that where she goes she carries a fire that consumes and destroys everything.
While I was passing my time thus, the year 1548 having come, Don Giovan Benedetto of Mantua, Abbot of SS. Fiore e Lucilla, a monastery of the Black Friars of Monte Cassino, who took infinite delight in matters of painting and was much my friend, prayed me that I should consent to paint a Last Supper, or some such thing, at the head of their refectory. [Pg 201] Whereupon I resolved to gratify his wish, and began to think of doing something out of the common use; and so I determined, in agreement with that good father, to paint for it the Nuptials of Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus, all in a picture fifteen braccia long, and in oils, but first to set it in place and then to work at it there. That method—and I can speak with authority, for I have proved it—is in truth that which should be followed by one who wishes that his pictures should have their true and proper lights, for the reason that in fact working at pictures in a place lower or other than that where they are to stand, causes changes in their lights, shadows, and many other properties. In that work, then, I strove to represent majesty and grandeur; and, although I may not judge whether I succeeded, I know well that I disposed everything in such a manner, that there may be recognized in passing good order all the manners of servants, pages, esquires, soldiers of the guard, the buttery, the credence, the musicians, a dwarf, and every other thing that is required for a magnificent and royal banquet. There may be seen, among others, the steward bringing the viands to the table, accompanied by a good number of pages dressed in livery, besides esquires and other servants; and at the ends of the table, which is oval, are lords and other great personages and courtiers, who are standing on their feet, as is the custom, to see the banquet. King Ahasuerus is seated at table, a proud and enamoured monarch, leaning upon the left arm and offering a cup of wine to the Queen, in an attitude truly dignified and regal. In short, if I were to believe what I heard said by persons at that time, and what I still hear from anyone who sees the work, I might consider that I had done something, but I know better how the matter stands, and what I would have done if my hand had followed that which I had conceived in idea. Be that as it may, I applied to it—and this I can declare freely—study and diligence. Above the work, on a spandrel of the vaulting, comes a Christ who is offering to the Queen a crown of flowers; and this was done in fresco, and placed there to denote the spiritual conception of the story, which signified that, the ancient Synagogue being repudiated, Christ was espousing the new Church of his faithful Christians.
At this same time I made the portrait of Luigi Guicciardini, brother [Pg 202] of the Messer Francesco who wrote the History, because that Messer Luigi was very much my friend, and that year, being Commissary of Arezzo, had caused me out of love for me to buy a very large property in land, called Frassineto, in Valdichiana, which has been the salvation and the greatest prop of my house, and will be the same for my successors, if, as I hope, they prove true to themselves. That portrait, which is in the possession of the heirs of that Messer Luigi, is said to be the best and the closest likeness of the infinite number that I have executed. But of the portraits that I have painted, which are so many, I will make no mention, because it would be a tedious thing; and, to tell the truth, I have avoided doing them to the best of my ability. That finished, I painted at the commission of Fra Mariotto da Castiglioni of Arezzo, for the Church of S. Francesco in that city, an altar-picture of Our Lady, S. Anne, S. Francis, and S. Sylvester. And at this same time I drew for Cardinal di Monte, my very good patron, who was then Legate in Bologna, and afterwards became Pope Julius III, the design and plan of a great farm which was afterwards carried into execution at the foot of Monte Sansovino, his native place, where I was several times at the orders of that lord, who much delighted in building.
Having gone, after I had finished these works, to Florence, I painted that summer on a banner for carrying in processions, belonging to the Company of S. Giovanni de' Peducci of Arezzo, that Saint on one side preaching to the multitude, and on the other the same Saint baptizing Christ. Which picture, as soon as it was finished, I sent to my house at Arezzo, that it might be delivered to the men of the above-named Company; and it happened that Monsignor Giorgio, Cardinal d'Armagnac, a Frenchman, passing through Arezzo and going to see my house for some other purpose, saw that banner, or rather, standard, and, liking it, did his utmost to obtain it for sending to the King of France, offering a large price. But I would not break faith with those who had commissioned me to paint it, for, although many said to me that I could make another, I know not whether I could have done it as well and with equal diligence. And not long afterwards I executed for Messer Annibale Caro, according as he had requested me long before in a letter, which is [Pg 203] printed, a picture of Adonis dying in the lap of Venus, after the invention of Theocritus; which work was afterwards taken to France, almost against my will, and given to M. Albizzo del Bene, together with a Psyche gazing with a lamp at Cupid, who wakens from his sleep, a spark from the lamp having scorched him. Those figures, all nude and large as life, were the reason that Alfonso di Tommaso Cambi, who was then a very beautiful youth, well-lettered, accomplished, and most gentle and courteous, had himself portrayed nude and at full length in the person of the huntsman Endymion beloved by the Moon, whose white form, and the fanciful landscape all around, have their light from the brightness of the moon, which in the darkness of the night makes an effect passing natural and true, for the reason that I strove with all diligence to counterfeit the peculiar colours that the pale yellow light of the moon is wont to give to the things upon which it strikes. After this, I painted two pictures for sending to Ragusa, in one Our Lady, and in the other a Pietà; and then in a great picture for Francesco Botti Our Lady with her Son in her arms, and Joseph; and that picture, which I certainly executed with the greatest diligence that I knew, he took with him to Spain. These works finished, I went in the same year to see Cardinal di Monte at Bologna, where he was Legate, and, dwelling with him for some days, besides many other conversations, he contrived to speak so well and to persuade me with such good reasons, that, being constrained by him to do a thing which up to that time I had refused to do, I resolved to take a wife, and so, by his desire, married a daughter of Francesco Bacci, a noble citizen of Arezzo. Having returned to Florence, I executed a great picture of Our Lady after a new invention of my own and with more figures, which was acquired by Messer Bindo Altoviti, who gave me a hundred crowns of gold for it and took it to Rome, where it is now in his house. Besides this, I painted many other pictures at the same time, as for Messer Bernardetto de' Medici, for Messer Bartolommeo Strada, an eminent physician, and for others of my friends, of whom there is no need to speak.
In those days, Gismondo Martelli having died in Florence, and having left instructions in his testament that an altar-picture with Our Lady [Pg 204] and some Saints should be painted for the chapel of that noble family in S. Lorenzo, Luigi and Pandolfo Martelli, together with M. Cosimo Bartoli, all very much my friends, besought me that I should execute that picture. Having obtained leave from the Lord Duke Cosimo, the Patron and first Warden of Works of that church, I consented to do it, but on condition that I should be allowed to paint in it something after my own fancy from the life of S. Gismondo, in allusion to the name of the testator. Which agreement concluded, I remembered to have heard that Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, the architect of that church, had given a particular form to all the chapels to the end that there might be made for each not some little altar-piece, but some large scene or picture which might fill the whole space. Wherefore, being disposed to follow in that respect the wishes and directions of Brunelleschi, and paying regard rather to honour than to the little profit that I could obtain from that commission, which contemplated the painting of a small altar-picture with few figures, I painted in an altar-piece ten braccia in breadth, and thirteen in height, the story, or rather, martyrdom, of the King S. Gismondo, when he, his wife, and his two sons were cast into a well by another King, or rather, Tyrant. I contrived that the ornamental border of that chapel, which is a semi-circle, should serve as the opening of the gate of a great palace in the Rustic Order, through which there should be a view of a square court supported by pilasters and columns of the Doric Order; and I arranged that through that opening there should be seen in the centre an octagonal well with an ascent of steps around it, by which the executioners might ascend, carrying the two sons nude in order to cast them into the well. In the loggie around I painted on one side people gazing upon that horrid spectacle, and on the other side, which is the left, I made some soldiers who, having seized by force the wife of the King, are carrying her towards the well in order to put her to death. And at the principal door I made a group of soldiers that are binding S. Gismondo, who with his relaxed and patient attitude shows that he is suffering most willingly that death and martyrdom, and he stands gazing on four Angels in the air, who are showing to him palms and crowns of martyrdom for himself, his wife, and his sons, which appears to give him [Pg 205] complete comfort and consolation. I strove, likewise, to demonstrate the cruelty and fierce anger of the impious Tyrant, who stands on the upper level of the court to behold his vengeance and the death of S. Gismondo. In short, so far as in me lay, I made every effort to give to all the figures, to the best of my ability, the proper expressions and the appropriate attitudes and spirited movements, and all that was required. How far I succeeded, that I shall leave to be judged by others; but this I must say, that I gave to it all the study, labour, and diligence in my power and knowledge.
Meanwhile, the Lord Duke Cosimo desiring that the Book of the Lives, already brought almost to completion with the greatest diligence that I had found possible, and with the assistance of some of my friends, should be given to the printers, I gave it to Lorenzo Torrentino, printer to the Duke, and so the printing was begun. But not even the Theories had been finished, when, Pope Paul III having died, I began to doubt that I might have to depart from Florence before that book was finished printing. Going therefore out of Florence to meet Cardinal di Monte, who was passing on his way to the Conclave, I had no sooner made obeisance to him and spoken a few words, than he said: "I go to Rome, and without a doubt I shall be Pope. Make haste, if you have anything to do, and as soon as you hear the news set out for Rome without awaiting other advice or any invitation." Nor did that prognostication prove false, for, being at Arezzo for that Carnival, when certain festivities and masquerades were being arranged, the news came that the Cardinal had become Julius III. Whereupon I mounted straightway on horseback and went to Florence, whence, pressed by the Duke, I went to Rome, in order to be present at the coronation of the new Pontiff and to take part in the preparation of the festivities. And so, arriving in Rome and dismounting at the house of Messer Bindo, I went to do reverence to his Holiness and to kiss his feet. Which done, the first words that he spoke to me were to remind me that what he had foretold of himself had not been false. Then, after he was crowned and settled down a little, the first thing that he wished to have done was to satisfy an obligation that he had to the memory of Antonio, the first and elder [Pg 206] Cardinal di Monte, by means of a tomb to be made in S. Pietro a Montorio; of which the designs and models having been made, it was executed in marble, as has been related fully in another place. And meanwhile I painted the altar-picture of that chapel, in which I represented the Conversion of S. Paul, but, to vary it from that which Buonarroti had executed in the Pauline Chapel, I made S. Paul young, as he himself writes, and fallen from his horse, and led blind by the soldiers to Ananias, from whom by the imposition of hands he receives the lost sight of his eyes, and is baptized; in which work, either because the space was restricted, or whatever may have been the reason, I did not satisfy myself completely, although it was perhaps not displeasing to others, and in particular to Michelagnolo. For that Pontiff, likewise, I executed another altar-picture for a chapel in the Palace; but this, for reasons given elsewhere, was afterwards taken by me to Arezzo and placed at the high-altar of the Pieve. If, however, I had not fully satisfied either myself or others in the last-named picture or in that of S. Pietro a Montorio, it would have been no matter for surprise, because, being obliged to be continually at the beck and call of that Pontiff, I was kept always moving, or rather, occupied in making architectural designs, and particularly because I was the first who designed and prepared all the inventions of the Vigna Julia, which he caused to be erected at incredible expense. And although it was executed afterwards by others, yet it was I who always committed to drawing the caprices of the Pope, which were then given to Michelagnolo to revise and correct. Jacopo Barozzi of Vignuola finished, after many designs by his own hand, the rooms, halls, and many other ornaments of that place; but the lower fountain was made under the direction of myself and of Ammanati, who afterwards remained there and made the loggia that is over the fountain. In that work, however, it was not possible for a man to show his ability or to do anything right, because from day to day new caprices came into the head of the Pope, which had to be carried into execution according to the daily instructions given by Messer Pier Giovanni Aliotti, Bishop of Forlì.
During that time, being obliged in the year 1550 to go twice to [Pg 207] Florence on other affairs, the first time I finished the picture of S. Gismondo, which the Duke went to see in the house of M. Ottaviano de' Medici, where I executed it; and he liked it so much, that he said to me that when I had finished my work in Rome I should come to serve him in Florence, where I would receive orders as to what was to be done. I then returned to Rome, where I gave completion to those works that I had begun, and painted a picture of the Beheading of S. John for the high-altar of the Company of the Misericordia, different not a little from those that are generally done, which I set in place in the year 1553; and then I wished to return, but I was forced to execute for Messer Bindo Altoviti, not being able to refuse him, two very large loggie in stucco-work and fresco. One of them that I painted was at his villa, made with a new method of architecture, because, the loggia being so large that it was not possible to turn the vaulting without danger, I had it made with armatures of wood, matting, and canes, over which was done the stucco-work and fresco-painting, as if the vaulting were of masonry, and even so it appears and is believed to be by all who see it; and it is supported by many ornamental columns of variegated marble, antique and rare. The other loggia is on the ground-floor of his house on the bridge, and is covered with scenes in fresco. And after that I painted for the ceiling of an antechamber four large pictures in oils of the four Seasons of the year. These finished, I was forced to make for Andrea della Fonte, who was much my friend, a portrait from life of his wife, and with it I gave him a large picture of Christ bearing the Cross, with figures the size of life, which I had made for a kinsman of the Pope, but afterwards had not chosen to present to him. For the Bishop of Vasona I painted a Dead Christ supported by Nicodemus and by two Angels, and for Pier Antonio Bandini a Nativity of Christ, an effect of night with variety in the invention.
While I was executing these works, I was also watching to see what the Pope was intending to do, and finally I saw that there was little to be expected from him, and that it was useless to labour in his service. Wherefore, notwithstanding that I had already executed the cartoons for painting in fresco the loggia that is over the fountain of the above-named [Pg 208] Vigna, I resolved that I would at all costs go to serve the Duke of Florence, and the rather because I was pressed to do this by M. Averardo Serristori and Bishop Ricasoli, the Ambassadors of his Excellency in Rome, and also in letters by M. Sforza Almeni, his Cupbearer and Chief Chamberlain. I transferred myself, therefore, to Arezzo, in order to make my way from there to Florence, but first I was forced to make for Monsignor Minerbetti, Bishop of Arezzo, as for my lord and most dear friend, a lifesize picture of Patience in the form that has since been used by Signor Ercole, Duke of Ferrara, as his device and as the reverse of his medal. Which work finished, I came to kiss the hand of the Lord Duke Cosimo, by whom in his kindness I was received very warmly; and while it was being considered what I should first take in hand, I caused Cristofano Gherardi of the Borgo to paint in chiaroscuro after my designs the façade of M. Sforza Almeni, in that manner and with those inventions that have been described at great length in another place. Now at that time I happened to be one of the Lords Priors of the city of Arezzo, whose office it is to govern that city, but I was summoned by letters of the Lord Duke into his service, and absolved from that duty; and, having come to Florence, I found that his Excellency had begun that year to build that apartment of his Palace which is towards the Piazza del Grano, under the direction of the wood-carver Tasso, who was then architect to the Palace. The roof had been placed so low that all those rooms had little elevation, and were, indeed, altogether dwarfed; but, since to raise the crossbeams and the whole roof would be a long affair, I advised that a series of timbers should be placed, by way of border, with sunk compartments two braccia and a half in extent, between the crossbeams of the roof, with a range of consoles in the perpendicular line, so as to make a frieze of about two braccia above the timbers. Which plan greatly pleasing his Excellency, he gave orders straightway that so it should be done, and that Tasso should execute the woodwork and the compartments, within which was to be painted the Genealogy of the Gods; and that afterwards the work should be continued in the other rooms.
LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT AND THE AMBASSADORS
(After the fresco by Giorgio Vasari. Florence: Palazzo Vecchio)
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While the work for those ceilings was being prepared, having obtained leave from the Duke, I went to spend two months between Arezzo and [Pg 209] Cortona, partly to give completion to some affairs of my own, and partly to finish a work in fresco begun on the walls and vaulting of the Company of Jesus at Cortona. In that place I painted three stories of the life of Jesus Christ, and all the sacrifices offered to God in the Old Testament, from Cain and Abel down to the Prophet Nehemiah; and there, during that time, I also furnished designs and models for the fabric of the Madonna Nuova, without the city. The work for the Company of Jesus being finished, I returned to Florence in the year 1555 with all my family, to serve Duke Cosimo. And there I began and finished the compartments, walls, and ceiling of the above-named upper Hall, called the Sala degli Elementi, painting in the compartments, which are eleven, the Castration of Heaven in the air. In a terrace beside that Hall I painted on the ceiling the actions of Saturn and Ops, and then on the ceiling of another great chamber all the story of Ceres and Proserpine; and in a still larger chamber, which is beside the last, likewise on the ceiling, which is very rich, stories of the Goddess Berecynthia and of Cybele with her Triumph, and the four Seasons, and on the walls all the twelve Months. On the ceiling of another, not so rich, I painted the Birth of Jove and the Goat Amaltheia nursing him, with the rest of the other most notable things related of him; in another terrace beside the same room, much adorned with stones and stucco-work, other things of Jove and Juno; and finally, in the next chamber, the Birth of Hercules and all his Labours. All that could not be included on the ceilings was placed in the friezes of each room, or has been placed in the arras-tapestries that the Lord Duke has caused to be woven for each room from my cartoons, corresponding to the pictures high up on the walls. I shall not speak of the grotesques, ornaments, and pictures of the stairs, nor of many other smaller details executed by my hand in that apartment of rooms, because, besides that I hope that a longer account may be given of them on another occasion, everyone may see them at his pleasure and judge of them.
While these upper rooms were being painted, there were built the others that are on the level of the Great Hall, and are connected in a perpendicular line with the first-named, with a very convenient system [Pg 210] of staircases public and private that lead from the highest to the lowest quarters of the Palace. Meanwhile Tasso died, and the Duke, who had a very great desire that the Palace, which had been built at haphazard, in various stages and at various times, and more for the convenience of the officials than with any good order, should be put to rights, resolved that he would at all costs have it reconstructed in so far as that was possible, and that in time the Great Hall should be painted, and that Bandinelli should continue the Audience-chamber already begun. In order, therefore, to bring the whole Palace into accord, harmonizing the work already done with that which was to be done, he ordained that I should make several plans and designs, and finally a wooden model after some that had pleased him, the better to be able to proceed to accommodate all the apartments according to his pleasure, and to change and put straight the old stairs, which appeared to him too steep, ill-conceived, and badly made. To which work I set my hand, although it seemed to me a difficult enterprise and beyond my powers, and I executed as best I could a very large model, which is now in the possession of his Excellency; more to obey him than with any hope that I might succeed. That model, when it was finished, pleased him much, whether by his good fortune or mine, or because of the great desire that I had to give satisfaction; whereupon I set my hand to building, and little by little, doing now one thing and now another, the work has been carried to the condition wherein it may now be seen. And while the rest was being done, I decorated with very rich stucco-work in a varied pattern of compartments the first eight of the new rooms that are on a level with the Great Hall, what with saloons, chambers, and a chapel, with various pictures and innumerable portraits from life that come in the scenes, beginning with the elder Cosimo, and calling each room by the name of some great and famous person descended from him. In one, then, are the most notable actions of that Cosimo and those virtues that were most peculiar to him, with his greatest friends and servants and portraits of his children, all from life; and so, also, that of the elder Lorenzo, that of his son, Pope Leo, that of Pope Clement, that of Signor Giovanni, the father of our great Duke, and that of the Lord Duke Cosimo himself. [Pg 211] In the chapel is a large and very beautiful picture by the hand of Raffaello da Urbino, between a S. Cosimo and a S. Damiano painted by my hand, to whom that chapel is dedicated. Then in like manner in the upper rooms painted for the Lady Duchess Leonora, which are four, are actions of illustrious women, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Tuscan, one to each chamber. But of these, besides that I have spoken of them elsewhere, there will be a full account in the Dialogue which I am about to give to the world, as I have said; for to describe everything here would have taken too long.
For all these my labours, continuous, difficult, and great as they were, I was rewarded largely and richly by the magnanimous liberality of the great Duke, in addition to my salaries, with donations and with commodious and honourable houses both in Florence and in the country, to the end that I might be able the more advantageously to serve him. Besides which, he has honoured me with the supreme magistracy of Gonfalonier and other offices in my native city of Arezzo, with the right to substitute in them one of the citizens of that place, not to mention that to my brother Ser Piero he has given offices of profit in Florence, and likewise extraordinary favours to my relatives in Arezzo; so that I shall never be weary of confessing the obligation that I feel towards that Lord for so many marks of affection.
Returning to my works, I must go on to say that my most excellent Lord resolved to carry into execution a project that he had had for a long time, of painting the Great Hall, a conception worthy of his lofty and profound spirit; I know not whether, as he said, I believe jesting with me, because he thought for certain that I would get it off his hands, so that he would see it finished in his lifetime, or it may have been from some other private and, as has always been true of him, most prudent judgment. The result, in short, was that he commissioned me to raise the crossbeams and the whole roof thirteen braccia above the height at that time, to make the ceiling of wood, and to overlay it with gold and paint it full of scenes in oils; a vast and most important undertaking, and, if not too much for my courage, perhaps too much for my powers. However, whether it was that the confidence of that great Lord and the [Pg 212] good fortune that he has in his every enterprise raised me beyond what I am in myself, or that the hopes and opportunities of so fine a subject furnished me with much greater faculties, or that the grace of God—and this I was bound to place before any other thing—supplied me with strength, I undertook it, and, as has been seen, executed it in contradiction to the opinion of many persons, and not only in much less time than I had promised and the work might be considered to require, but in less than even I or his most illustrious Excellency ever thought. And I can well believe that he was astonished and well satisfied, because it came to be executed at the greatest emergency and the finest occasion that could have occurred; and this was (that the cause of so much haste may be known) that a settlement had been concluded about the marriage which was being arranged between our most illustrious Prince and the daughter of the late Emperor and sister of the present one, and I thought it my duty to make every effort that on the occasion of such festivities that Hall, which was the principal apartment of the Palace and the one wherein the most important ceremonies were to be celebrated, might be available for enjoyment. And here I will leave it to the judgment of everyone not only in our arts but also outside them, if only he has seen the greatness and variety of that work, to decide whether the extraordinary importance of the occasion should not be my excuse if in such haste I have not given complete satisfaction in so great a variety of wars on land and sea, stormings of cities, batteries, assaults, skirmishes, buildings of cities, public councils, ceremonies ancient and modern, triumphs, and so many other things, for which, not to mention anything else, the sketches, designs, and cartoons of so great a work required a very long time. I will not speak of the nude bodies, in which the perfection of our arts consists, or of the landscapes wherein all those things were painted, all which I had to copy from nature on the actual site and spot, even as I did with the many captains, generals and other chiefs, and soldiers, that were in the emprises that I painted. In short, I will venture to say that I had occasion to depict on that ceiling almost everything that human thought and imagination can conceive; all the varieties of bodies, faces, vestments, habiliments, casques, helmets, cuirasses, various [Pg 213] head-dresses, horses, harness, caparisons, artillery of every kind, navigations, tempests, storms of rain and snow, and so many other things, that I am not able to remember them. But anyone who sees the work may easily imagine what labours and what vigils I endured in executing with the greatest study in my power about forty large scenes, and some of them pictures ten braccia in every direction, with figures very large and in every manner. And although some of my young disciples worked with me there, they sometimes gave me assistance and sometimes not, for the reason that at times I was obliged, as they know, to repaint everything with my own hand and go over the whole picture again, to the end that all might be in one and the same manner. These stories, I say, treat of the history of Florence, from the building of the city down to the present day; the division into quarters, the cities brought to submission, the enemies vanquished, the cities subjugated, and, finally, the beginning and end of the War of Pisa on one side, and on the other likewise the beginning and end of the War of Siena, one carried on and concluded by the popular government in a period of fourteen years, and the other by the Duke in fourteen months, as may be seen; besides all the rest that is on the ceiling and will be on the walls, each eighty braccia in length and twenty in height, which I am even now painting in fresco, and hope likewise to discuss later in the above-mentioned Dialogue. And all this that I have sought to say hitherto has been for no other cause but to show with what diligence I have applied myself and still apply myself to matters of art, and with what good reasons I could excuse myself if in some cases (which I believe, indeed, are many) I have failed.
FRESCO IN THE HALL OF LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT
(After Giorgio Vasari. Florence: Palazzo Vecchio)
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I will add, also, that about the same time I received orders to design all the arches to be shown to his Excellency for the purpose of determining the whole arrangement of the numerous festive preparations already described, executed in Florence for the nuptials of the most illustrious Lord Prince, of which I had then to carry into execution and finish a great part; to cause to be painted after my designs, in ten pictures each fourteen braccia high and eleven broad, all the squares of the principal cities of the dominion, drawn in perspective with their original builders and their devices; also, to have finished the head-wall [Pg 214] of the above-named Hall, begun by Bandinelli, and to have a scene made for the other, the greatest and richest that was ever made by anyone; and, finally, to execute the principal stairs of that Palace, with their vestibules, the court and the columns, in the manner that everyone knows and that has been described above, with fifteen cities of the Empire and of the Tyrol depicted from the reality in as many pictures. Not little, also, has been the time that I have spent in those same days in pushing forward the construction, from the time when I first began it, of the loggia and the vast fabric of the Magistrates, facing towards the River Arno, than which I have never had built anything more difficult or more dangerous, from its being founded over the river, and even, one might say, in the air. But it was necessary, besides other reasons, in order to attach to it, as has been done, the great corridor which crosses the river and goes from the Ducal Palace to the Palace and Garden of the Pitti; which corridor was built under my direction and after my design in five months, although it is a work that one might think impossible to finish in less than five years. In addition, it was also my task to cause to be reconstructed and increased for the same nuptials, in the great tribune of S. Spirito, the new machinery for the festival that used to be held in S. Felice in Piazza; which was all reduced to the greatest possible perfection, so that there are no longer any of those dangers that used to be incurred in that festival. And under my charge, likewise, have been the works of the Palace and Church of the Knights of S. Stephen at Pisa, and the tribune, or rather, cupola, of the Madonna dell' Umiltà in Pistoia, which is a work of the greatest importance. For all which, without excusing my imperfection, which I know only too well, if I have achieved anything of the good, I render infinite thanks to God, from whom I still hope to have such help that I may see finished, whenever that may be, the terrible undertaking of the walls in the Hall, to the full satisfaction of my Lords, who already for a period of thirteen years have given me opportunities to execute vast works with honour and profit for myself; after which, weary, aged, and outworn, I may be at rest. And if for various reasons I have executed the works described for the most part with something of rapidity and haste, this I hope to do [Pg 215] at my leisure, seeing that the Lord Duke is content that I should not press it, but should do it at my ease, granting me all the repose and recreation that I myself could desire. Thus, last year, being tired by the many works described above, he gave me leave that I might go about for some months to divert myself, and so, setting out to travel, I passed over little less than the whole of Italy, seeing again innumerable friends and patrons and the works of various excellent craftsmen, as I have related above in another connection. Finally, being in Rome on my way to return to Florence, I went to kiss the feet of the most holy and most blessed Pope Pius V, and he commissioned me to execute for him in Florence an altar-picture for sending to his Convent and Church of Bosco, which he was then having built in his native place, near Alessandria della Paglia.
Having then returned to Florence, remembering the command that his Holiness had laid upon me and the many marks of affection that he had shown, I painted for him, as he had commissioned me, an altar-picture of the Adoration of the Magi; and when he heard that it had been carried by me to completion, he sent me a message that to please him, and that he might confer with me over some thoughts in his mind, I should go with that picture to Rome, but particularly for the purpose of discussing the fabric of S. Pietro, which he showed himself to have very much at heart. Having therefore made preparations with a hundred crowns that he sent me for that purpose, and having sent the picture before me, I went to Rome; and after I had been there a month and had had many conversations with his Holiness, and had advised him not to permit any alterations to be made in the arrangements of Buonarroti for the fabric of S. Pietro, and had executed some designs, he commanded me to make for the high-altar of that Church of Bosco not an altar-picture such as is customary, but an immense structure almost in the manner of a triumphal arch, with two large panels, one in front and the other behind, and in smaller pictures about thirty scenes filled with many figures; all which have been carried very near completion.
At that time I obtained the gracious leave of his Holiness, who with infinite lovingness and condescension sent me the Bulls expedited free [Pg 216] of charge, to erect in the Pieve of Arezzo a chapel and decanate, which is the principal chapel of that Pieve, under the patronage of myself and of my house, endowed by me and painted by my hand, and offered to the Divine Goodness as an acknowledgment (although but a trifle) of the great obligation that I feel to the Divine Majesty for the innumerable graces and benefits that He has deigned to bestow upon me. The altar-picture of that chapel is in form very similar to that described above, which has been in part the reason that it has been brought back to my memory, for it is isolated and consists likewise of two pictures, one in front, already mentioned above, and one at the back with the story of S. George, with pictures of certain Saints on either side, and at the foot smaller pictures with their stories; those Saints whose bodies are in a most beautiful tomb below the altar, with other principal reliques of the city. In the centre comes a tabernacle passing well arranged for the Sacrament, because it serves for both the one altar and the other, and it is embellished with stories of the Old Testament and the New all in keeping with that Mystery, as has been told in part elsewhere.
I had forgotten to say, also, that the year before, when I went the first time to kiss the Pope's feet, I took the road by Perugia in order to set in place three large altar-pieces executed for a refectory of the Black Friars of S. Piero in that city. In one, that in the centre, is the Marriage of Cana in Galilee, at which Christ performed the Miracle of converting water into wine. In the second, on the right hand, is Elisha the Prophet sweetening with meal the bitter pot, the food of which, spoilt by colocynths, his prophets were not able to eat. And in the third is S. Benedict, to whom a lay-brother announces at a time of very great dearth, and at the very moment when his monks were lacking food, that some camels laden with meal have arrived at his door, and he sees that the Angels of God are miraculously bringing to him a vast quantity of meal.
For Signora Gentilina, mother of Signor Chiappino and Signor Paolo Vitelli, I painted in Florence and sent from there to Città di Castello a great altar-picture in which is the Coronation of Our Lady, on high a Dance of Angels, and at the foot many figures larger than life; [Pg 217] which picture was placed in S. Francesco in that city. For the Church of Poggio a Caiano, a villa of the Lord Duke, I painted in an altar-picture the Dead Christ in the lap of His Mother, S. Cosimo and S. Damiano contemplating Him, and in the air an Angel who, weeping, displays the Mysteries of the Passion of Our Saviour; and in the Church of the Carmine at Florence, in the Chapel of Matteo and Simon Botti, my very dear friends, there was placed about this same time an altar-picture by my hand wherein is Christ Crucified, with Our Lady, S. John and the Magdalene weeping. Then I executed two great pictures for Jacopo Capponi, for sending to France, in one of which is Spring and in the other Autumn, with large figures and new inventions; and in another and even larger picture a Dead Christ supported by two Angels, with God the Father on high. To the Nuns of S. Maria Novella of Arezzo I sent likewise in those days, or a little before, an altar-picture in which is the Virgin receiving the Annunciation from the Angel, and at the sides two Saints; and for the Nuns of Luco in the Mugello, of the Order of Camaldoli, another altar-piece that is in the inner choir, containing Christ Crucified, Our Lady, S. John, and Mary Magdalene. For Luca Torrigiani, who is very much my intimate and friend, and who desired to have among the many things that he possesses of our art a picture by my own hand, in order to keep it near him, I painted in a large picture a nude Venus with the three Graces about her, one of whom is attiring her head, another holds her mirror, and the third is pouring water into a vessel to bathe her; which picture I strove to execute with the greatest study and diligence that I was able, in order to satisfy my own mind no less than that of so sweet and dear a friend. I also executed for Antonio de' Nobili, Treasurer-General to his Excellency and my affectionate friend, besides his portrait, being forced to do it against my inclination, a head of Jesus Christ taken from the words in which Lentulus writes of His effigy, both of which were done with diligence; and likewise another somewhat larger, but similar to that named above, for Signor Mandragone, now the first person in the service of Don Francesco de' Medici, Prince of Florence and Siena, which I presented to his lordship because he is much affected towards our arts and every [Pg 218] talent, to the end that he might remember from the sight of it that I love him and am his friend. I have also in hand, and hope to finish soon, a large picture, a most fanciful work, which is intended for Signor Antonio Montalvo, Lord of Sassetta, who is deservedly the First Chamberlain and the most trusted companion of our Duke, and so sweet and loving an intimate and friend, not to say a superior, to me, that, if my hand shall accomplish the desire that I have to leave to him a proof by that hand of the affection that I bear him, it will be recognized how much I honour him and how dearly I wish that the memory of a lord so honoured and so loyal, and beloved by me, shall live among posterity, seeing that he exerts himself willingly in favouring all the beautiful intellects that labour in our profession or take delight in design.
For the Lord Prince, Don Francesco, I have executed recently two pictures that he has sent to Toledo in Spain, to a sister of the Lady Duchess Leonora, his mother; and for himself a little picture in the manner of a miniature, with forty figures, what with great and small, according to a very beautiful invention of his own. For Filippo Salviati I finished not long since an altar-picture that is going to the Sisters of S. Vincenzio at Prato, wherein on high is Our Lady arrived in Heaven and crowned, and at the foot the Apostles around the Sepulchre. For the Black Friars of the Badia of Florence, likewise, I am painting an altar-piece of the Assumption of Our Lady, which is near completion, with the Apostles in figures larger than life, and other figures at the sides, and around it stories and ornaments accommodated in a novel manner. And since the Lord Duke, so truly excellent in everything, takes pleasure not only in the building of palaces, cities, fortresses, harbours, loggie, public squares, gardens, fountains, villas, and other suchlike things, beautiful, magnificent, and most useful, for the benefit of his people, but also particularly in building anew and reducing to better form and greater beauty, as a truly Catholic Prince, the temples and sacred churches of God, in imitation of the great King Solomon, recently he has caused me to remove the tramezzo of the Church of S. Maria Novella, which had robbed it of all its beauty, and a new and very rich choir was made [Pg 219] behind the high-altar, in order to remove that occupying a great part of the centre of that church; which makes it appear a new church and most beautiful, as indeed it is. And because things that have not order and proportion among themselves can never be entirely beautiful, he has ordained that there shall be made in the side-aisles, between column and column, in such a manner as to correspond to the centres of the arches, rich ornaments of stone in a novel form, which are to serve as chapels with altars in the centre, and are all to be in one of two manners; and that then in the altar-pictures that are to go within these ornaments, seven braccia in height and five in breadth, there shall be executed paintings after the will and pleasure of the patrons of the chapels. Within one of those ornaments of stone, made from my design, I have executed for the very reverend Monsignor Alessandro Strozzi, Bishop of Volterra, my old and most loving patron, a Christ Crucified according to the Vision of S. Anselm—namely, with the Seven Virtues, without which we cannot ascend the Seven Steps to Jesus Christ—and with other considerations by the same Saint. And in the same church, within another of those ornaments, I have painted for the excellent Maestro Andrea Pasquali, physician to the Lord Duke, a Resurrection of Jesus Christ in the manner that God has inspired me, to please that Maestro Andrea, who is much my friend. And a similar work our great Duke has desired to have done in the immense Church of S. Croce in Florence;—namely, that the tramezzo should be removed and that the choir should be made behind the high-altar, bringing that altar somewhat forward and placing upon it a new and rich tabernacle for the most holy Sacrament, all adorned with gold, figures, and scenes; and, in addition, that in the same manner that has been told of S. Maria Novella there should be made there fourteen chapels against the walls, with greater expense and ornamentation than those described above, because that church is much larger than the other. In the altar-pieces, to accompany the two by Salviati and Bronzino, are to be all the principal Mysteries of the Saviour, from the beginning of His Passion to the Sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles; which picture of the Sending of the [Pg 220] Holy Spirit, having made the design of the chapels and ornaments of stone, I have in hand for M. Agnolo Biffoli, Treasurer-General to our Lords, and my particular friend, and I finished, not long since, two large pictures that are in the Magistracy of the Nine Conservadori, beside S. Piero Scheraggio; in one is the head of Christ, and in the other a Madonna.
But since I should take too long if I sought to recount in detail the many other pictures, designs without number, models, and masquerades that I have executed, and because this much is enough and more than enough, I shall say nothing more of myself, save that however great and important have been the things that I have continually suggested to Duke Cosimo, I have never been able to equal, much less to surpass, the greatness of his mind. And this will be seen clearly in a third sacristy that he wishes to build beside S. Lorenzo, large and similar to that which Michelagnolo built in the past, but all of variegated marbles and mosaics, in order to deposit there, in tombs most honourable and worthy of his power and grandeur, the remains of his dead children, of his father and mother, of the magnanimous Duchess Leonora, his consort, and of himself; for which I have already made a model after his taste and according to the orders received from him by me, which, when carried into execution, will cause it to be a novel, most magnificent, and truly regal Mausoleum.
This much, then, it must suffice to have said of myself, who am now come after so many labours to the age of fifty-five years, and look to live so long as it shall please God, honouring Him, ever at the service of my friends, and working in so far as my strength shall allow for the benefit and advantage of these most noble arts.
Honoured and noble craftsmen, for whose profit and advantage, chiefly, I set myself a second time to so long a labour, I now find that by the favour and assistance of the Divine Grace I have accomplished in full that which at the beginning of this my present task I promised myself to do. For which result rendering thanks first to God and afterwards to my lords, who have granted me the facilities whereby I have been able to do this advantageously, I must then give repose to my weary pen and brain, which I shall do as soon as I shall have made some brief observations. If, then, it should appear to anyone that in my writing I have been at times rather long and even somewhat prolix, let him put it down to this, that I have sought as much as I have been able to be clear, and before any other thing to set down my story in such a manner that what has not been understood the first time, or not expressed satisfactorily by me, might be made manifest at any cost. And if what has been said once has been at times repeated in another place, the reasons for this have been two—first, that the matter that I was treating required it, and then that during the time when I rewrote and reprinted the work I broke off my writing more than once for a period not of days merely but of months, either for journeys or because of a superabundance of labours, works of painting, designs, and buildings; besides which, for a man like myself (I confess it freely) it is almost impossible to avoid every error. To those to whom it might appear that I have overpraised any craftsmen, whether old or modern, and who, comparing the old with those of the present age, might laugh at them, I know not what else to answer save that my intention has always been to praise not absolutely but, as the saying is, relatively, having regard to place, time, and other similar circumstances; and in truth, although Giotto, for example, was [Pg 222] much extolled in his day, I know not what would have been said of him, as of other old masters, if he had lived in the time of Buonarroti, whereas the men of this age, which is at the topmost height of perfection, would not be in the position that they are if those others had not first been such as they were before us. In short, let it be believed that what I have done in praising or censuring I have done not with any ulterior object, but only to speak the truth or what I have believed to be the truth. But one cannot always have the goldsmith's balance in the hand, and he who has experienced what writing is, and particularly when one has to make comparisons, which are by their very nature odious, or to pronounce judgments, will hold me excused; and I know only too well how great have been the labours, hardships, and moneys that I have devoted over many years to this work. Such, indeed, and so many, have been the difficulties that I have experienced therein, that many a time I would have abandoned it in despair, if the succour of many true and good friends, to whom I shall always be deeply indebted, had not given me courage and persuaded me to persevere, they lending me all the loving aids that have been in their power, of notices, advices, and comparisons of various things, about which, although I had seen them, I was not a little perplexed and dubious. Those aids, indeed, have been such, that I have been able to lay bare the pure truth and bring this work into the light of day, in order to revive the memory of so many rare and extraordinary intellects, which was almost entirely buried, for the benefit of those who shall come after us. In doing which I have found no little assistance, as has been told elsewhere, in the writings of Lorenzo Ghiberti, Domenico Ghirlandajo, and Raffaello da Urbino; but although I have lent them willing faith, nevertheless I have always sought to verify their statements by a sight of the works, for the reason that long practice teaches a diligent painter to be able to recognize the various manners of craftsmen not otherwise than a learned and well-practised chancellor knows the various and diverse writings of his equals, or anyone the characters of his nearest and most familiar friends and relatives.
Now, if I have achieved the end that I have desired, which has been to benefit and at the same time to delight, that will be a supreme [Pg 223] satisfaction to me, and, even if it be otherwise, it will be a contentment for me, or at least an alleviation of pain, to have endured fatigue in an honourable work such as should make me worthy of pity among all choice spirits, if not of pardon. But to come at last to the end of this long discourse; I have written as a painter and with the best order and method that I have been able, and, as for language, in that which I speak, whether it be Florentine or Tuscan, and in the most easy and facile manner at my command, leaving the long and ornate periods, choice words, and other ornaments of learned speech and writing, to such as have not, as I have, a hand rather for brushes than for the pen, and a head rather for designs than for writing. And if I have scattered throughout the work many terms peculiar to our arts, of which perchance it has not occurred to the brightest and greatest lights of our language to avail themselves, I have done this because I could do no less and in order to be understood by you, my craftsmen, for whom, chiefly, as I have said, I set myself to this labour. For the rest, then, I having done all that I have been able, accept it willingly, and expect not from me what I know not and what is not in my power; satisfying yourselves of my good intention, which is and ever will be to benefit and please others.
DIE 25 AUGUSTI, 1567.
CONCEDIMUS LICENTIAM ET FACULTATEM IMPUNE ET SINE ULLO PRÆJUDICIO IMPRIMENDI FLORENTIÆ VITAS PICTORUM, SCULPTORUM, ET ARCHITECTORUM, TANQUAM A FIDE ET RELIGIONE NULLO PACTO ALIENAS, SED POTIUS VALDE CONSONAS. IN QUORUM FIDEM ETC.
GUIDO SERVIDIUS, PRÆPOSITUS ET VICARIUS GENERALIS FLORENT.
END OF VOL. X.
Note.—To bring this Index within as reasonable a compass as possible cross-references, such as Agnolo Bronzino. See Bronzino, Agnolo, are printed Agnolo Bronzino, the italics indicating the name under which the page-numbers will be found.[Pg 232]