Painter of Florence

   ANDREA DEL SARTO<br>   Painter of Florence</br>    (1486-1531)

AFTER these numerous Lives of artists, some excellent in colouring, some in design and some in invention, I have now come to Andrea del Sarto, whom Nature endowed with her rarest gifts in all three branches, so that, had his spirit been as bold as his judgment was profound, he would doubtless have been unequalled. But a timidity of spirit and a yielding simple nature prevented him from exhibiting a burning ardour and dash that, joined to his other qualities, would have made him divine. 1 This defect deprived his work of the ornament, magnificence and wealth of style seen in many other painters. None the less his figures are simple and pure, well conceived, flawless and perfect in every particular. 2 The heads of his women and children have a natural and graceful expression, and his young and old men possess a marvellous vivacity and vigour; his draperies are remarkable and his nudes show thorough knowledge, and though his design is simple his colouring is truly divine.

Andrea was born in Florence in 1478, and was called del Sarto (tailor) from his father's profession. At the age of seven he was taken from school and put with a goldsmith, but he was naturally more fond of designing than of using his tools on the silver or gold. Gian. Barile, a Florentine painter, though a coarse and plebeian man, noticed the child's good method of designing, and took him away from the goldsmith to learn painting. Andrea at once took delight in the art for which Nature had formed him, and in a short space of time he astonished Gian. Barile and the other artists of the city by his work in colours. After three years of continuous study, Gian. Barile perceived that the child would become remarkable, and accordingly he spoke to Piero di Cosimo, then considered one of the best painters in Florence, who took Andrea, who was anxious to learn, and continued zealous in his studies. Nature had endowed him with as much skill in using colours as if he had worked for fifty years, so that Piero became very fond of him, and was delighted to hear that when the boy had a little time, especially on feast days, he would devote the whole day with other youths drawing in the Pope's Hall, containing the cartoons of Michelagnolo and Lionardo. Although so young Andrea surpassed all the other designers, whether native or foreign, who gathered there. Among these Andrea derived most pleasure from the character and conversation of Francia Bigio, the painter, who returned his friendship.

Andrea one day told Francia that he could no longer stand thee eccentricity of Piero, now an old man, and that he wished to have a room of his own. Francia, who was forced to do the same because his master, Mariotto Albertinelli, had given up painting, agreed to come and live with Andrea. Accordingly they took a room on the Piazza del Grano, where they did many works together. One of these was the curtains for the picture of the high altar of the Servites, 3 given them by the sacristan, a near relation of Francia. On the side towards the choir they painted an Annunciation, and on the other a Deposition from the Cross, like the panel there by Filippo and Pietro Perugino. The men of the company of the Scalzo, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and built in that time by several Florentine artists used then to meet above the house of Ottaviano de' Medici the Magnificent, at the top of the via Largo, opposite the garden of S. Marco. Among other things, they had built a court with a gallery resting on small columns. Some of them, noticing Andrea's advance as a painter, proposed that he should do twelve scenes in grisaille there from the life of St. John the Baptist, for they had more spirit than money. Accordingly he set to work, 4 beginning with the Baptism of Christ, done so well that it brought him great credit and renown, so that many wished to employ him, believing that such a beginning promised remarkable fruit. Among other things in his first style is a picture now in the house of Filippo Spini, held in great veneration in memory of such an artist. Not long after he did a panel of Christ appearing to St. Mary Magdalene in the garden, for a chapel in S. Gallo, a church of the Fremitani friars of St. Augustine, outside the S. Gallo gate. The colouring, tone, harmony and sweetness of this work led to his employment to do two other pictures in the same church not long after, as I shall relate presently. All three are now at the corner of the Alberti in S. Jacopo tra' Fossi. 5

After this Andrea and Francia left the Piazza del Grano and took new rooms near the convent of the Nunziata, in the Sapienza. This led to a friendship between Andrea and the young Jacopo Sansovino, who was doing sculpture there under Andrea Contucci, so close that they wer enever separated day or night. They usually discussed the difficulties of art, so that it is small wonder that both became excellent.

At that time there was a sacristan with the Servites at the candle bench called Fra Mariano dal Canto alla Macine. Hearing the praise of Andrea on every hand, and his marvellous progress in painting, it occurred to him to gratify a wish at a small expense. Approaching Andrea, who was good-natured and easygoing, he represented that he wished to help him to win honour and profit, and to make him known, so that he would never be poor again. Many years before Alesso Baldovinetti had done a Nativity on the wall joining the Nunziata in the first court of the Servites; and on the other side Cosimo Rosselli had begun a representation of St. Philip, the founder of the order, taking, the habit, but had not finished it at the time of his death. The friar being anxious for its completion thought he could profit by the emulation between Andrea and Francia, by getting each of them to do a part, and this would induce them to work harder while the cost would be less. Accordingly he discovered his plan to Andrea, and persuaded him to undertake the work, showing that in a place so frequented his work would become known to foreigners as well as to Florentines: so that he ought not to think of the price, but to beg for the task. If he could not do it, there was Francia, who had offered, leaving the price to the priest. These considerations induced Andrea to undertake the task, especially as he had little spirit; but the last remark about Francia made him resolve to obtain a bond that no one else should be employed. The friar having pledged him and given him money, he began on the life of St. Philip, 6 receiving only ten ducats for each scene, for they said he was doing it more for his own ends than for the benefit of friar, as if he thought more of honour than of the profit, he soon completed and unveiled three scenes, where St. Philip as a friar clothes a naked man; where he is preaching against some gamblers who are blaspheming God, and as they are deriding his warnings a flash of lightning kills two and terrifies the others, some, putting their hands to their heads, throw themselves forward, others flee screaming, while a woman fleeing from fear of the thunder is most life-like, and a horse rears up at the sound, showing the terror caused by the unexpected, the entire scene proving that Andrea had thought out the various accidents that would occur. In the third scene St. Philip casts out a spirit from a woman, with every imaginable circumstance to illustrate the story, so that the three works brought Andrea the greatest glory. Encouraged by this, he did two more in the same court. In one St. Philip lies dead, and the friars are weeping about him, while a dead child on touching the bier is restored to life. He is seen first dead and then raised, in a very natural manner. On the last on that side the friars are putting St. Philip's clothes on the heads of some children. Here he did the portrait of Andrea della Robbia, the sculptor, as an old man dressed in red, bent down, with a staff in his hands, and one of Luca, his son. In the death scene of Philip he introduced a portrait of Andrea's son Girolamo, his great friend, and a sculptor who died in France not long ago since. On completing this series, he determined to abandon the rest, as the price was too small for its quality. The friar complained bitterly and would not release Andrea from his bond unless he promised to do two more scenes at his leisure and for a larger sum, and this was arranged.

Having, thus made a name, Andrea was commissioned to do many important works. Among these the general of the monks of Vallombrosa employed him to paint a Last Supper for an arch in the vaulting of the refectory in the monastery of S. Salvi, outside the S. Croce gate. 7 Here he did in medallions figures of St. Benedict, St. John Gualbert, St. Salvi the bishop, and St. Bernard degli Uberti of Florence, friar and cardinal; in the middle he did a circle with three faces, which are the same, representing the Trinity. The work was excellently done in fresco, and showed Andrea's worth as a painter. Thus he was employed by Baccio d' Agnolo to do an Annunciat' on in the minute style, still seen in a recess by Orsanmichele leading to the Mercato Nuovo, which was not much admired, probably because he made too great efforts, whereas he was able to do well without forcing Nature. Among the numerous pictures which he did for Florence, and which it would take too long to recount, one of the most remarkable is the one now in the chamber of Baccio Barbadori, representing the Virgin and Child, St. Anne and St. Joseph, beautifully executed and much valued by Baccio. He did a very good one now owned by Lorenzo di flomenico Borghini, and another for Lionardo del Giocondo, of the Virgin, now owned by Piero, his son. For Carlo Ginori he did two small ones, afterwards bought by Ottaviano de' Medici the Magnificent, one of them at present being in his beautiful villa of campi, and the other, in company with numerous paintings by excellent modern masters, in the chamber of Sig. Bernardetto, the worthy son of his father, who values the works of famous artists, and is a magnificent and generous signor.

Meanwhile the Scrvites had allotted one of the scenes in their court to Francia Bigio. He had not completed his preparation of the surface when Andrea, whose jealousy was aroused, for he believed Francia to be more skilful and quick in fresco painting than himself, did cartoons for the two scenes as if in competition, to be executed in the corner between the side door of S. Bastiano and the lesser door leading from the court into the Nunziata. On finishing the cartoons he began to execute them in fresco, 8 beginning with the Birth of the Virgin, a beautiful composition of figures gracefully arranged in a chamber, where some women have come on a visit, dressed in the costumes of the day. Some of lesser estate stand about the fire and wash the new-born babe, while some are making the swathes and performing similar services. Among them are a works, his reputation increasing daily, the men of the company of the Scalzo determined that he should finish their courtyard, where he had already painted a Baptism of Christ. He took up the work willingly, 9 and did two scenes and Charity and Justice to decorate the entrance door. One of the scenes represents St. John preaching to the multitudes in a vigorous and life-like attitude, his head displaying much spirit. The variety and vivacity of the auditors is no less remarkable, some standing in wonder and all astonished at the new sayings and at such rare and novel teaching. But Andrea displayed far more genius in his John baptising the multitudes, some undressing, some receiving baptism, and some waiting their turn, already undressed, the expression of all being intense in their anxiety to be cleansed of sin, while all the figures are so excellently done that they resemble a marble group. While Andrea was thus employed, some copper engravings of Albert Durer issued from the press, from which he borrowed figures, adapting them to his style, which has led some to think, not that it is bad to use the good things of others, but that Andrea was weak in invention. Baecio Bandinelli, a celebrated designer of the day, fancied he would like to colour in oils, and knowing no better man than Andrea in that art at Florence, got him to make his portrait, which was a good likeness, and may still be seen. Observing his methods of colouring, he gave up his idea and returned to sculpture, either owing to the difficulty or because he did not care for painting. For Alessandro Corsini Andrea did a Virgin seated on the ground with the Child, surrounded by cherubs, executed with great art and in pleasant colouring. 10 For a mercer, a friend of his who kept a shop in Rome, he did a lovely head. Giovanni Battista Puccini of Florence, being charmed with Andrea's style, employed him to do a Madonna to send to France, but it was so beautiful that he kept it for himself. However, as he was doing business in France, and commissioned to obtain works from great painters, he got Andrea to do a dead Christ supported by angels, who sorrowfully regard their Maker in such misery for the sins of men. 11This work gave such universal delight that Andrea was persuaded to have it engraved at Rome by Agostino Viniziano, but as it did not succeed very well he never suffered anything to be printed again. The picture caused as much delight in France as at Florence, so that the king sent orders to Andrea for others, and Andrea, by the advice of his friends, decided soon after to go to France.

Meanwhile, in the year 1515, the Florentines, learning that Pope Leo X. intended to favour them with a visit 12 prepared a great reception with arches, facades, temples, colossal statues, and other ornaments, more sumptuous than had ever been seen before, as the city was richer then in men of genius than it had ever been. At the S. Pier Gattolinigate Jacopo di Sandro made an arch full of scenes, assisted by Baccioda Montelupo. At S. Felice, in Piazza, Giuliano del Tasso made another, and at S. Trinita he did some statues, a half-length Romulus and a Trajan column in the Mercato Nuovo. On the Piazza de' Signori, Antonio, brother of Giuliano da S. Gallo, made an octagoilal temple, and Baccio Bandinell did a giant for the loggia. Between the Badiaand the Podest palace an arch was set up by Granaccio and Aristoteleda S. Gallo; at the corner of the Bischeri, II Rosso made another, beautifully designed with a variety of figures. But the best of all was a wooden facade to S. Maria del Fiore decorated by Andrea, with scenes in grisaille. The architecture of this and of some bas-reliefs and sculptures was by Jacopo Sansovino, so that the Pope‚considered it as fine as if it had been of marble. It was the invention of Lorenzo de' Medici, the Pope's father. On the piazza of S. Maria Novella, Jacopo made a horse like that at Rome, of great beauty. Countless ornaments also were made for the Pope's Hall in the via della Scala, the street being half full of beautiful bas-reliefs by many artists, but most designed by Baccio Bandinelli. Thus when Leo entered Florence on 3rd September that same year the decorations were considered the finest and the most extensive ever seen.

But to return to Andrea. He soon completed another picture for the King of France, at his request, being a lovely Madonna, which was immediately sent, the merchants receiving four times as much as they had paid for it. About that time Pier Francesco Borgherini had employed Baccio d'Agnolo to make wooden arm-chairs, chests, seats and beds to furnish a room. In order to have pictures of corresponding excellence, he employed Andrea to do some medium figures of the history of Joseph, 13 to compete with some beautiful ones by Granaccio: and Jacopo da Pontormo. By extraordinary efforts Andrea endeavoured to surpass these, and succeeded admirably, showing his ability in the variety of the circumstances which occur in the scenes. During the siege of Florence Giovanni Battista della Palia proposed to have them packed up to be sent to the King of France, but they were so firmly fixed that they could not be removed without destruction, and consequently they remain in the same place, with an admirable Madonna. Andrea next did a head of Christ, now kept by the Servite friars on the altar of the Nunziata. I do not think that the human intellect can imagine anything finer of its kind. In the chapel of the church outside the S. Gallo gate there were two other panels of Andrea, and many inferior to his. The friars, wishing to have another, induced the superior of the chapel to give it to Andrea. Beginning at once, he made four figures standing, discussing the Trinity. 14 St. Augustine, of African appearance, dressed as a bishop, turns vehemently towards St. Peter Martyr, who is holding an open book, his mien and gesture most formidable, the head and figure being much admired. Next to him is St. Francis, holding a book in one hand, striking the other on his breast, his fervour apparently making utterance difficult. St. Laurence, as a young man, gives place to the authority of the others. Kneeling beneath are two figures, one a Magdalene with beautiful draperies. This is a portrait of his wife, for he never painted a woman without using her as his model, and owing to this habit all the women's heads which he did are alike. The last of the four figures was St. Sebastian, nude, and turning his back, a life-like figure. Artists consider this his best work in oils, as the measurements of the figures are carefully observed, the expressions are suitable, the heads of the youths being soft and those of the old hard, with a medium state for those of middle age; in fact the picture is most beautiful in every detail. It is now in S. Jacopo Fra Fossi, at the Alberti corner, with others by the same hand.

While Andrea was just maintaining himself in Florence with these works, without improving his condition, the two pictures he sent to King Francis in France were considered much ‚the best out of all that came from Rome, Venice and Lombardy. The king praised them greatly, and he was told that Andrea would readily come to France to serve him. Accordingly, being paid the expenses of his journey, Andrea setout joyfully for France, 15taking with him his pupil Andrea Sguazzella. Arrived at the court, they were graciously welcomed by the king, and before he had been a day there Andrea experienced the liberality and courtesy of that magnanimous king, receiving rich investments and money. He then began to work, and was so highly favoured by the king and court that he seemed to have exchanged a very wretched condition for a most happy one. He drew, among his first things, a portrait of the Dauphin, 16 then only a few months old, and took it to the king, receiving for it 300 gold crowns. Continuing, he did a Charity 17 for the king, which was much admired and valued, as it deserved. The king gave him a large pension, and did everything to retain him, promising him that he should lack nothing, for he was pleased with Andrea's quickness and his satisfaction with everything. Besides this, Andrea pleased the court, doing many works for them. If he had considered his origin and the position to which Fortune had raised him, no doubt he could have attained an honourable rank, not to speak of riches. But one day, as he was doing a St. Jerome in penitence for the king's mother, some letters arrived from his wife at Florence, and he began, for some cause or another, to think of returning. He asked the king's permission to go, saying that he would return when he had arranged some affairs, and that he would bring back his wife, to enable him to live there more comfortably, and that he would bring with him valuable paintings and sculptures. The king trusted him, and gave him money, while Andrea swore on the Gospels to return in a few months. Arrived in Florence, 18 he enjoyed his wife, his friends and the city for several months. When the time for his return to France had passed, he found that in building 19 and pleasures, without working, he had spent all his money and the king's also. But though he wished to return, the tears and entreaties of his wife prevailed more than his own needs and his promise to the king. Francis became so angry at his faithlessness that he for a long time looked askance at Florentine painters, and he swore that if Andrea ever fell into his hands he would have more pain than pleasure, in spite of all his ability. Thus Andrea remained in Florence, fallen very low from his high station, and maintaining himself as best he could.

When Andrea left for France the men of the Scalzo, believing he would never return, had given the remainder of their cloistei'to Francia Kigio, who had already done two scenes there. When Andrea returned they induced him to take up the work, and he did four scenes in a row. The first is St. John before Herod; the second the banquet and the dancing of Herodias, 20 with excellent figures; the third is the beheading of John, the half-naked executioner being finely drawn, as are all the others; in the fourth Herodias is presenting the head, and some of the figures are in amazement. These scenes were for some time the school of many youths, now excellent artists. At a vaulted corner leading to the Ingesuati outside the Pinti gate Andrea did a Virgin seated in a tabernacle with the Child and a little St. John laughing, so perfectly done that its beauty and vivacity are highly valued. The head of the Virgin is a portrait of his wife. This tabernacle for its remarkable beauty was left standing when in 1530 the convent of the Jesuits and other beautiful buildings were destroyed during the siege of Florence.

At this time Francia Bartolommeo Panciatichi the elder was engaged in business in France, and wishing to leave a memorial of himself at Lyons, he instructed Baccio d'Agnolo to get Andrea to do a panel of the Assumption 21 with the Apostles standing about. Andrea almost completed it, but as the wood‚split several times it was not entirely finished at his death. It was afterwards set up in the house of Bartolommeo Panciatichi the younger as a work truly admirable for the figures of the Apostles, as well as the Virgin, standing and surrounded by a choir of cherubs, some of whom are gracefully supporting her. At the bottom of the picture Andrea has made a striking likeness of himself among the Apostles. This is now in the villa of the Baroncelli, a little outside Florence, in a small church built to receive it by Piero Salviati near his villa. In two corners at the bottom of the garden of the Servites, Andrea did two scenes of the Parable of the Vineyard, 22 the planting and laying out, and the husbandman asking for labourers among those standing idle, one of whom is seated and rubs his hands, debating whether he shall go with the other workmen, like the loafers who have no relish for work. Much finer is the husbandman paying them, while they murmur and complain. Among them is an excellent figure of a man counting the money. These scenes are in grisaille, skillfully done in fresco. At the top of a staircase in the noviciate of the same convent Andrea did a Pieta' in a niche, coloured in fresco, of great beauty. He did another small Pieta and a Nativity in the chamber of Angelo Aretino, the general of the convent. For Zanobi Bracci, who greatly desired to have works of his, he did for a chamber a Virgin kneeling against a rock and regarding Christ, who rests on some clothes and looks up smiling; St. John standing by points out to her the true Son of God. Behind them is Joseph, his headin his hands, which rest on a rock, his spirit irradiated at seeing the human race made divine by this birth. 23

When Cardinal Giulio de' Medici was commissioned by Pope Leo to have the vaulting of the Medici palace at Poggio a Cajano, between Pistoia and Florence, decorated with stucco and painting, the charge of the works and payments was entrusted to Ottaviano de' Medici the Magnificent, as one who understood such matters, and a patron of art like his predecessors, more fond than others of having his houses adorned with the works of the best artists. He entrusted a third to Francia Bigio, a third to Andrea, and the rest to Jacopo da Pontormo. But in spite of Ottaviano's entreaties and offers of money he could not prevail upon them to finish the work. Andrea alone completed with great diligence a scene on a wall of Caesar receiving tribute of all the animals. The design for this is in our book, with many others by his hand, and it is the most finished painting in grisaille that Andrea ever did. In order to surpass Francia and Jacopo, Andrea took exceptional pains, making a magnificent perspective and some very difficult steps up to Caesar's seat. 24 He adorned this with appropriate statues, not satisfied with the variety of figures who are bringing the various animals. There is an Indian in a yellow tunic with a cage on his shoulders containing parrots, rarely drawn in perspective. Here also some are bringing Indian boars, lions, giraffes, leopards, wolves, apes and Moors, most divinely produced in fresco. On the steps he made a dwarf seated, holding a chameleon in a box, the deformed figure being indescribably done in beautiful proportion. But the work was left unfinished owing to the death of Pope Leo. Although Duke Alessandro de' Medici wanted Jacopoda Pontormo to finish it, he could not prevail upon him to take it up. It is a pity that it is imperfect, as it is the finest hall in any villa in the world. Returning to Florence, Andrea did a half length nude St. John the Baptist, of great beauty, for Giovan. Maria Benintendi, who afterwards gave it to Duke Cosimo.

Whilst, these things were going on Andrea would sigh when he thought of France, and if he had expected pardon no doubt he would have gone back. He determined to bring his talents to help his fortune. Accordingly he did a half-naked St. John the Baptist to send to the grand master of France, 25 in order that he might restore him to the king's favour. For some reason he did not send it, but sold it to Ottaviano de' Medici theMagnificent, who always valued him highly. He also did two Madonnas for him in the same style, which remain in his house to this day. Not long after Zanobi Bracci got him to do a picture for Monsignore di S. Biause, 26 upon which he devoted great service he hoped to re-enter. He also did a picture for Lorenzo pains, anxious to regain the favour of King Francis, whose Jacopi, much larger than usual, of a Madonna seated with the Child and two other figures sitting on steps, similar to his other works in design and colouring. 27 He further did a lovely Madonna for Giovanni d'Agostino Dini, now much valued or its beauty, and drew a most life-like portrait of Cosimo Lapi.

On the outbreak of the plague in Florence and some of the country districts in 1523, Andrea, to escape it and do some work, went to Mugello to do a panel for the Camaldolite nuns of S. Piero a Luco, taking his wife, his little daughter, his wife's sister, and a pupil. Here he worked quietly, and as the nuns did many courtesies to his wife and to him and the others, he bestowed great pains on his task. He represented a dead Christ lamented by the Virgin, St. John the Evangelist and a Magdalene, 28 the figures actually appearing alive. St. John displays his tender love, the Magdalene weeps, the face and posture of the Virgin show her extreme grief at seeing the Christ, who seems in relief, while St. Peter and St. Paul stand dazed with sorrow and compassion at seeing the Saviour dead in His Mother's lap, all proving what great delight Andrea took in the perfection of art. In truth this panel has brought more renown to the convent than all the other building and outlay made there, great and magnificent as they were. On the completion of the work, Andrea remained in the convent some weeks as the plague was still raging, and he received every attention. To occupy his time he did a Visitation, which is in the church over the Presepio, as the pediment for an ancient picture. He also did a lovely head of Christ, of no great size, like the one over the altar of the Nunziata, but did not finish it. The head may be counted among his best works, and it is now in the monastery of the Angeli at Florence, in the possession of Padre Don Antonio of Pisa, the patron not only of artists but of all men of ability. Some copies have been made, as it was entrusted by Don Silvano Razzi to Zanobi Poggoni, the painter, to make a copy for Bartolommeo Gondi, who asked for one, and others were done which are much valued in Florence. In this way Andrea avoided the dangers of the plague, while the nuns profited by his talents, obtaining a work which may stand comparison with any by the best artists. Thus it is no wonder that Ramazotto, a captain at Scaricalasino, made several attempts to get it during the siege of Florence, intending to send it to his chapel in S. Michele in Bosco at Bologna.

On returning to Florence, Andrea did a panel for his friend the glassworker, Becuccio da Gambassi, of a Virgin and Child in the air, and four figures below, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Sebastian and St. Roch, with portraits of Becuccio and his wife in the predella. The panel is now at Gambassi, in the Valdelsa, between Volterra and Florence. 29 For a chapel of Zanobi Bracci at Rovezzano he did a lovely Madonna suckling the Child, and a Joseph, with such skill that they issue from the picture; this is now in the house of M. Antonio Bracci, Zanobi's son. At the same time Andrea did two more scenes in the courtyard of the Scalzo, one of Zacharias sacrificing and rendered dumb by the angel, the other a marvellously beautiful Visitation. Federico II., Duke of Mantua, in passing through Florence on his way to visit Clement VII., saw over a door of the Casa Medici that portrait of Pope Leo between Cardinal Giulio de' Medici and Cardinal de' Rossi done by Raphael. It pleased him so much that he determined to get possession of it, and when at Rome he asked the Pope for it, Clement willingly granting his request. Accordingly Ottavianode' Medici, then the guardian of Ippolito and Alessandro at Florence, was directed to pack it and send it to Mantua. The thing greatly displeased Ottaviano, who did not want to deprive Florence of such a painting, and he wondered at the Pope's action. However, he sent word that he would serve the duke, but as the frame was bad it was necessary to make a new one, and when it had been gilt he would send it to Mantua. Then he sent secretly for Andrea and explained the matter to him, saying there was nothing for it but to make a copy and to send it to the duke, keeping back Raphael's picture. Andrea promised to do his best, and set to work secretly in Ottavanio's house. He succeeded so well that Ottaviano, connoisseur as he was, could not tell the copy from the original, for Andrea had even copied the grease spots. They then sent it framed to Mantua, the duke being delighted, and the work was much admired by Giulio Romano the painter, Raphael's pupil, who did not suspect the truth. He would have always believed it to be Raphael's; but Giorgio Vasari, being at Mantua, disclosed the facts to him, for when a child and tile protégé of M. Ottaviano he had seen Andrea doing it. Giulio had displayed great courtesy to Vasari, and was showing him many antiquities and paintings, when he finally came to this picture as being the best of all. Giorgio said, "It is a fine work, but not Raphael's." "What !"exclaimed Giulio, "I know that it is, for I recognise my own handiwork in it." "You are mistaken," said Giorgio, "it is by Andrea del Sarto, and was done in Florence; here is the proof,'' and he showed him. Giulio turned the picture, and seeing the signature, shrugged his shoulders and said, "I value it even more than if it was by Raphael, for it is extraordinary that one great master should so exactly imitate the style of another." This shows the ability of Andrea when acting in cooperation as well as independently. Thus the duke was satisfied and Florence retained a valuable picture, thanks to the device of M. Ottaviano, who had the picture given to him by Duke Alessandro and kept it for many years. Finally he gave it to Duke Cosimo, who keeps it in his wardrobe among many other famous pictures. 30

While engaged upon this portrait, Andrea did for M. Ottaviano the head of Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, afterwards Pope Clement, alone, like Raphael's and of great beauty. It was subsequently given by M. Ottaviano to the old Bishop de' Marzi. Not long after M. Baldo Magini of Prato wished to have a beautiful picture for the Madonnadella Carcere on his estate, where he had previously made a fine marble ornament. Andrea was suggested to him, among others, and although not knowing much of the matter, M. Baldo had almost made up his mind to employ him when one Niccolo Soggi, of Sansovino, who had friends in Prato, was recommended to M. Baldo and obtained the work, as they said no better master could be had. Andrea, being sent for, went to Prato with Domenico Puligo and other painters, feeling certain that the work would be his. On arriving, however, he found Niccolo in possession, and so confident that he offered to wager any sum of money before M. Baldo that he would paint the better picture. Although a poor-spirited man, Andrea, who knew Niccolo's powers, replied, "My boy here does not know much art, but if you wish to wager I will put my money on him, but for myself I have nothing to gain in such a contest and it work to Niccolo, for he would please the marketers, Andrea would be shameful to lose." Then telling M. Baldo to give the returned to Florence. There he was allotted a panel for Pisa, divided into five pictures, afterwards set up in the Madonna of S. Agnesa, on the wall between the old citadel and the Duomo. In each scene he did one figure, putting St. John the Baptist and St. Peter on one side of the miracle-working Madonna and St. Catherine the Martyr, St. Agnes and St. Margaret on the other, all figures of marvellous beauty, and considered the most delicate and lovely women that he ever did. M. Jacopo, a Servite friar, had absolved a woman from a vow on condition that she would have a Madonna made to be placed over the side door of the Nunziata leading into the outside cloister. Finding Andrea, he told him that he had but little money to expend, and he thought that, as Andrea had made such a reputation at the house, he would do right to execute the work. Andrea being a mild man readily agreed, urged by the friar's arguments and by his desire for profit and glory. He soon after produced a lovely Virgin in fresco, seated with the Child in her arms, and St. Joseph leaning against a sack, his eyes fixed on an open book. This picture, in design, grace, excellence of colouring, vivacity and relief, proved him far superior to all his predecessors; indeed, the work as it stands praises itself.

Only one scene was lacking to complete the series in the court of the Scalzo. Andrea, having aggrandised his style after seeing the figures begun and almost finished by Michelagnolo in the sacristy of S. Lorenzo, put his hand to this, and giving a final proof of his progress, he painted the birth of St. John the Baptist in fine figures, much better executed and in higher relief than those previously done by him there. Among other things there is a woman carrying the new-born child to the bed where St. Elizabeth is lying, who is also a fine figure. Zacharias is writing on a sheet resting on one knee, holding it with one hand and writing the child's name with the other, the figure only lacking breath. Very fine also is an old woman on a stool, laughing at the childbearing of the aged Elizabeth in the most natural manner. On completing this work, which is very admirable, Andrea did a panel for the general of Vallombrosa of four fine figures, St. John the Baptist, St. John Gualbert, founder of the order, St. Michael and St. Bernard, cardinal and monk of the order, with some very pretty and life-like children in the middle. 31 It is at Vallombrosa, at the top of a rock tenanted by monks separated from the others, in some rooms called the cells, where they live like hermits. For Giuliano Scala, Andrea then made a panel to send to Serrazzana of the Virgin seated with the Child, and St. Celsus and St. Julia, from the knees up, with St. Onofrio, St. Catherine, St. Benedict, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Peter and St. Mark, a work valued as highly as his others.' He did an Annunciation for the same Giuliano as a pediment to the other in a lunette, which is in the Servites' church in a chapel of the choir in the principal tribune. 32

The monks of S. Salvi remained many years without thinking of having anything done to their Last Supper, which they had given to Andrea, when he did four figures in the arch. At last one worthy abbot determined to have it finished. Andrea, having previously bound himself to do this, made no objection, and taking up the work he finished it in a few months, 33 doing a piece at a time, at his leisure, and it is considered the most facile work in the brightest colouring and best design that he ever did or that could be done. He endowed the figures with infinite grandeur, majesty and grace, so that I cannot do justice to its merits, everyone who sees it being amazed. Thus it is no wonder that it was allowed to stand during the siege of Florence in 1529, when the soldiers were directed to destroy everything in the quarters outside the city, monasteries, hospitals and buildings of every kind. They had destroyed the church and campanile coming to the refectory where the Last Supper is, and having of S. Salvi, and were beginning to attack the convent, but on perhaps heard of the marvellous painting, they stayed their hands, resolving not to touch it unless absolutely obliged.

For the company of S. Jacopo, called il Nicchio, Andrea next did a processional banner of St. James touching the chin of a boy dressed as a flagellant, and another with a book in his hand, very fine and natural. He made the portrait of a steward of the monks of Vallombrosa, who lived in the country for their affairs; this was placed under a vine arranged with various fancies, where it was exposed to wind and weather, as the steward, who was a friend of Andrea, desired. On the completion of the work Andrea called his wife Lucrezia and said, "Come here; I have some colours over and I will paint your portrait to show how well preserved you are and yet how different from your first portraits." But as she would not keep still, possibly having something else in her mind, Andrea, as if divining that he was near his end, took a mirror and painted himself, making a fine portrait. 34 This is owned by his wife, who is still alive. He also drew a friend, a Pisan canon, this fine likeness being now at Pisa. For the Signoria he began the‚ cartoons for the painting of the balustrades of the Kinghi era in the piazza, with many ingenious ideas illustrating the quarters of the city, as well as the banners of the principal arts held by boys, and also figures of the Virtues, and the famous mountains and rivers in the Florentine territory. It was left incomplete at his death, and so was a panel done for the monks of Vallombrosa for the abbey of Poppi in Casentino, though it was nearly finished. It represents an Assumption' with cherubs, St. John Gualbert, St. Bernard, the cardinal and monk, St. Catherine and St. Fidele, and is now in the said abbey. It was the same with a panel which should have gone to Pisa. But he completed a fine picture now in the house of Filippo Salviati, and some others.

About the same time Giovanni Battista della Palla, 35 having bought as many notable paintings and sculptures as he could, and having the rest copied, had thus despoiled Florence of a quantity of choice things to furnish a suite of rooms for the King of France, which was to be as rich as possible in such decoration. He wished Andrea to return to the king's service and favour, and got him to do two pictures. One represented Abraham sacrificing Isaac, 36 judged his best work until then, the patriarch showing his lively faith and constancy in not fearulgto slay his own soil. He turns his head towards a beautiful angel, who seems to have told him to hold his hand. I say no more of the attitude, costume and other things of the patriarch, since it is impossible to say enough, but Isaac is a beautiful boy, trembling with fear and almost dead before the blow. His neck is sun burnt, but the parts covered by his clothes are white. The ram among the thorns looks alive, and the clothes of Isaac on the ground are very natural. Two naked servants are watching a grazing ass, and the landscape is of the utmost beauty. After the death of Andrea and the arrest of Battista the picture was bought by Filippo Strozzi, who gave it to Sig. Alfonso Davalos, Marquis of il Vasto, and he had it taken to the island of Ischia, near Naples, and placed in some rooms with other fine paintings. In the other picture Andrea did a lovely Charity with three infants. It was bought after Andrea's death from his widow by Domenico Conti, the painter. He sold it to Niccolo Antinori, who values it as a rare work.

Ottaviano de' Medici, seeing the improvement in Andrea's style, wished to have a picture by him. Andrea being anxious to serve a lord who had always favoured men of talent, and to whom he was much indebted, made him a Virgin seated on the ground with a Child astride on her knees, turning His head to St. John held by an old St. Elizabeth, who seems alive, the whole work being produced with incredible art, design and finish. 37 On completing the picture Andrea took it to M. Ottaviano, but as Florence was then being besieged, he had other preoccupations, and told Andrea to give it to anyone he liked, excusing himself and thanking him. But Andrea replied that he had laboured for Ottaviano and his it should be. "Sell it," said M. Ottaviano, "and use the money, because I know what I am saying.' Andrea accordingly went home, but would never give it to anyone. At the end of the siege, when the Medici returned to Florence, Andrea brought the picture to M. Ottaviano, who thanked him warmly and paid him double the price. It is now in the chamber of Madonna Francesca, his wife, sister of the Very Rev. Salviatl, who values the pictures left by her husband just as she retains his friends. Andrea did another picture, like his Charity referred to, for Cio. Borgherini, of a Madonna and a little St. John offering the Christ a ball representing the world, and a fine St. Joseph. Povolo da Terrarossa, as the friend of all painters, having seen Andrea's sketch of Abraham, wished to have something by his hands, and asked for the figure of Abraham, which Andrea did for him readily, the small copy being no whit inferior to the large original. Pavolo, being greatly delighted, asked the price, thinking it would be high, but Andrea named a wretchedly small sum, and Pavolo, half ashamed, shrugged his shoulders and paid him. The picture was after- wards sent by him to Naples, where it is the finest to be seen. During the siege of Florence some captains of the city made off with the pay of the men. Andrea was asked to paint these and other fugitives and rebel citizens in the Podesta palace, and agreed to do so. Not wishing to earn the nickname degl' Impiccati, like Andrea del Castagno, he let it, he understood that he had handed over the work to an apprentice of his called Bemardo del Buda. 38 But constructing a large shed by which he went in and out at night, he painted the figures himself and made them seem alive. The soldiers, painted on‚the wall of the old Mercatanzia, near la Condotta, facing the piazza, have been whitewashed over for many years, and the citizens finished by him in the palace were obliterated.

In his last years Andrea became intimate with the governors of the company of St. Bastiano, behind the Servites, and he made them a fine half-length St. Sebastian, which appears to have been his last work. At the end of the siege Andrea expected better things, though he had little hope that his design of returning to France would succeed, as Giovanni Battista della Palla was taken, Florence being full of soldiers and stores. Among the soldiers were some landsknechts infected with the plague, which they communicated to the city. Andrea, whether through fear or through having eaten too freely after the privations of the siege, fell grievously sick. He took to his bed and was much neglected, his wife fearing infection and keeping away, and he died, they say, with no one by, being buried by the men of the Scalzo with little ceremony in the church of the Servites, near his house, where the members of that company are laid.

Andrea's death was a great loss to the city and to art, because he improved steadily until his forty-second and last year, and would have continued so to do, because more certain progress is won thus gradually than by a spurt. There is no doubt that if Andrea had stayed at Rome when he went there to see the works of Raphael and Michelagnolo and the statues and monuments, he would have greatly enriched his style of composition and endowed his figures with more refinement and force, things only attained by those who stay some time in Rome to study and examine in detail. Naturally his design was sweet and graceful, his colouring facile and very brilliant, and it is thought that had he remained in Rome he must have surpassed all the artists of his day. But some believe that he was deterred by the copious works of the city and by the sight of the numerous pupils of Raphael, with their bold designs and their unceasing toil, and, being timid, he had not the heart to continue, and concluded it would be better for him to return to Florence, where, by turning over gradually what he had seen, he made so much profit that his works are greatly valued and admired: indeed they have been more imitated since his death than when he was alive. Those who prized them and have since Sold them have gained three times as much as they paid him, as he always put a low value on his things, being of a timid nature, and because the joiners, who did the best things for private houses, would never give him any cork except when they knew him to be in great need and ready to accept any sum. Nevertheless, his works are most rare and deservedly valued, as he was one of the greatest masters who have lived hitherto.

Many of his designs are in our book, and all are good, especially the scene done at Poggio, where the tribute of all the oriental animals is presented to Caesar. It is in grisaille and better finished than any other of his designs, as when he drew from Nature for his works he made rough sketches as an indication, and did not make them perfect except in the finished work, so that his designs served rather as an aid to the memory than as things to copy. His pupils were countless- but they did not all follow the same course of study under him, some stopping a little while and some longer, not through Andrea's fault, but his wife's, who tyrannously ordered them all about and rendered their lives a burden.

Among Andrea's pupils were Jacopo da Pontormo, Andrea Sguazzella, who did a palace outside Paris' in his style, which is much praised, 39 Solosmeo, Pier Francesco di Jacopo di Sandro, who did three panels in S. Spirito, Francesco Salviati and Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo, Salviati's companion, although he was but little with Andrea, Jacopo del Conte of Florence, and Nannoccio, now in France with the cardinal of Tnurn on, in great credit. Jacopo, called Jacone, was another pupil and a great friend, closely imitating his style. During Andrea's life Jacone ‚availed himself greatly of his master's help, as we see in all his works, chiefly on the facade of the house of the knight Buondelmonti on the piazza of S. Trinita'. Domenico Conti was left the heir of Andrea's designs and other artistic things, but made little profit in painting, and it is believed some artists stole them one night, and it was never known what had become of, them. Domenico Conti, not ungrateful for the benefits received from his master, and desirous to do him honour, induced Raffaello da Montelupo to make a marble slab set on a pilaster in the church of the Servites, with this epitaph by the learned M. Pier Vettori, then a youth:


Not long after some wardens of the church, through ignorance rather than hostility, annoyed that the slab should have been put in that place without their licence, succeeded in having it removed, nor has it yet been set up elsewhere. Thus we see that Fortune not only influences the fate of men when alive, but also their memory. However, in despite of all, the works and name of Andrea will long survive, and I hope these writings of mine will preserve their memory for many centuries. Let us conclude then that, if Andrea in life was mean-spirited and contented with little, in art his spirit was lofty, and he was quick and skilful in work, so that he greatly assisted art by his style in design and colouring. He committed fewer errors than any other Florentine painter, for he understood light and shade and the vanishing into darkness, and painted with a very vivid sweetness, while in fresco he displayed perfect liar-mony and did not retouch much a secco, so that his works seem to have been done in a single day. Thus he should serve as an example to Tuscan artists and bear an honoured palm among their most famous men.

  • 1 Gaudenzio Ferrari, 1484-1549.
  • 2 Rectius Varallo.
  • 3 They were painted by Andrea di Cosimo, 1510-11.
  • 4 In 1515.
  • 5 The Noli me tangere is in the Accademia, Florence, the other two are in the Pitti Gallery.
  • 6 St. Philip Benizzi, begun in 1509.
  • 7 In 1519.
  • 8 In 1511, completed 1514.
  • 9 He resumed the work in 1522, and finished it in 1526.
  • 10 Possibly the Holy Family in the Pinacothek, Munich.
  • 11 Sometime in the Vienna Gallery.
  • 12 Pitti Gallery.
  • 13 Pitti Gallery.
  • 14 At the end of May 1518.
  • 15 Afterwards Henry II., born 28 February, 1518.
  • 16 Now in the Louvre.
  • 17 October 1519.
  • 18 He built a house for himself at Florence.
  • 19 Her daughter rather.
  • 20 Pitti Gallery; painted 1526.
  • 21 Painted 1512-13.
  • 22 Pitti Gallery.
  • 23 In 1521.
  • 24 Anne de Montmorency.
  • 25 Jacques de Beaune de Semblancay.
  • 26 Sold to the Duke of Mantua in 1605.
  • 27 Pitti Gallery; painted 1524.
  • 28 Now in the Pitti Gallery.
  • 29 The original is in the Pitti Gallery, the copy (painted in 1524) at Naples.
  • 30 Accademia, Florence; painted 1528.
  • 31 Berlin Gallery, also belongs to 1528.
  • 32 In 1519.
  • 33 Now in the Pitti Gallery.
  • 34 Uffizi.
  • 35 Pitti Gallery; painted 1529-31.
  • 36 Dresden: Gallery
  • 37 Pitti Gallery; finished 1529.
  • 38 Bernardo de' Rosselli.
  • 39 Semblancay, painted 1516-24.

  • Index of Artists