MANY whom Nature creates small and insignificant in appearance have their souls filled with such greatness and their hearts with such boundless courage that they cannot rest unless they undertake things of almost impossible difficulty, and bring them to completion to the wonder of all beholders, and no matter how vile and base things may be, they become in their hands valuable and lofty. Thus we should never turn up our noses when we meet persons who do not possess that grace and bearing which Nature might be expected to give to distinguished men when they come into the world, for clods of earth hide veins of gold. It frequently happens that men of insignificant appearance possess great generosity of spirit and sincerity of heart, and when nobility of soul is joined to these characteristics the greatest marvels may be expected, for they endeavour to overcome the defects of their body by the virtues of their mind. This appears in Filippo di ser Brunellesco, as well as in Messer Forese da Rabatta and Giotto, who were all of mean appearance, but their minds were lofty, and of Filippo it may be said that he was given by Heaven to invest architecture with new forms, after it had wandered astray for many centuries, during which the men of the time had expended much treasure to bad purpose in erecting buildings devoid of arrangement, in bad style, of sorry design, with the queerest notions, most ungraceful grace, and worse ornament. It was Heaven's decree, after the earth had been so many years without a master mind and divine spirit, that Filippo should leave to the world the greatest and loftiest building, the finest of all the achievements of ancient and modem times, proving that the ability of the Tuscan artists though lost was not dead. It also adorned him with the highest virtues, among which was that of friendship, and no one was ever more kind and loveable than he. His judgment was free from passion, and when he perceived merit in others he put aside his own interest and that of his friends. He knew himself and communicated his own virtues to many, being always ready to assist his neighbours when in need. The mortal enemy of vice, he sought the society of those who practised virtue. He never wasted time, but was always engaged upon his own works or those of others, if they needed help, and was always visiting his friends and remembering them.
There lived in Florence, we are told, a man of excellent repute, of worthy habits and competent in his affairs, named Ser Brunellesco di Lippo Lapi, whose grandfather, called Cambio, was a learned man, the son of a very famous physician of the day, named Master Ventura Bacherini. This Ser Drunellesco took to wife a virtuous lady of the noble family of the Spini, and as part of her dower he had a house, in which he and his sons dwelt until their death, situated opposite S. Michele Berteldi, at a corner beyond the piazza degli Agli. While he was living there a son was born to him in the year 1377, whom he named Filippo after his dead father, the event causing the greatest rejoicings. In the child's early youth his father carefully taught him the first principles of letters, in which he exhibited much intelligence, but he did not exert his full powers, as if he did not wish to attain to great perfection in this, intending apparently to devote himself to things of greater utility. This greatly displeased Ser Brunellesco, who wished to make him a notary or to follow his great great grandfather’s profession. But perceiving that the boy was always returning to art and manual work, he made him learn the abacus and writing and then put in with a goldsmith, a friend of his, so that he should learn to design. Greatly delighted, Filippo began to learn and practise that art, so that before many years he could set stones better than a practised craftsman. He did niello and grotesques, such as half-length silver figures of two prophets placed at the head of the altar of S. Jacopo of Fistoia' and considered very beautiful, made by him for the wardens of the city, and works in bas-relief where he showed such a thorough grasp of that trade that his mind was clearly ready to pass to higher things. Coming into contact with some studious artists he began to study with enthusiasm motion, weights and wheels, how they may be made to revolve and what sets them in motion, and so produced with his own hand some excellent and very beautiful clocks. Not contented with this he aspired to practise sculpture on a large scaled and this led to a constant association in practising that art with Donatello, 1 a youth of skill and great promise, and so great an affection grew up between them, owing to their high qualities, that they did not seem able to live apart from one another. Although Filippo was skilled in many things and practised several professions, yet he did not devote so much time to them as to prevent his being considered an excellent architect by persons qualified to judge. He proved this in his decorations for various houses, such as that of Appollonio Lapi, his kinsman, at the corner of the Ciai towards the Mercato Vecchio, where he did many things during the building. Outside Florence he did the same in the tower and house of the Petraia at Castello. In the palace of the Signoria he arranged and separated off all the apartments where the offices of the officials of the Monte were situated, and constructed the doors and windows in a style borrowed from the ancients not much in use then, because architecture was in a very crude state in Tuscany. Filippo was next commissioned to make a statue in linden wood of St. Mary Magdalene in penitence for the friars of S. Spirito, to be placed in a chapel, and as he had made many small things in sculpture he was anxious to prove that he could also succeed in large ones. When the statue was finished and set up it was considered most beautiful, but it perished in the fire at that church in 1471, together with many other notable things. He paid great attention to perspective, which was badly understood at the time, many errors being perpetrated, and spent much time over it, but at length he discovered unaided a method of getting it perfectly true; this was to trace it with the ground plan and elevation by means of intersecting lines, a useful addition to the art of design. He took such delight in this that he drew with his own hand the piazza of S. Giovanni, with all the divisions of the black and white marble incitation, diminishing them with a singular grace; and he also did the house of the Misericordia, with the shops of the wafer-makers; the vault of the Pecon, with the column of St. linobi on the other side. The praise accorded to the work by artists and connoisseurs so much encouraged him that before long he began another, drawing the palace, the piazza and the loggia of the Signori, with the shelter of the Fisani and all the buildings about, thus awakening the spirit of other artists, who afterwards bestowed much study upon them. In particular, he taught Masaccio the painter, then a youth and his close friend, who did honour to his instructor, as appears in the buildings which occur in his works. He further showed it to those who do tarsia work, which is an art of inlaying coloured woods, stimulating them to such an extent that he gave rise to many good and useful things produced in that art both then and afterwards which have brought fame and profit to Florence for many years. One evening Messer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli happened to be entertaining some friends in a garden and invited Filippo, who, hearing him speak of mathematics, cultivated his friendship and learned geometry from him, and, although Filippo was not a lettered man, he was able to argue so well from his own practice and experience that he often astonished M. Paolo. Then again Filippo interested himself in the Christian Scriptures, and never failed to be present at the disputes and preaching of learned persons, making so much profit through his excellent memory that M. Paolo used to say that when he heard Filippo argue he thought he was listening to a new St. Paul.
At this time also Filippo studied Dante, thoroughly familiarising himself with the localities and measurements, and often quoting the poet in his arguments. His mind was always contriving and imagining ingenious and difficult things, and he found a kindred spirit in Donato, with whom he would have friendly discussions, in which they both delighted, on the difficulties of their profession. Thus, one day when Donato had finished a wooden crucifix (which was placed in S. Croce in Florence, under the scene where St. Francis raises the child, painted by Taddeo Gaddi), he wished to have Filippo's opinion; but he repented, for Filippo said that he had put rustic on the cross. Donato then retorted, "Take some wood bind make one yourself," as is related at length in his life. Filippo, who never lost his temper, however great the provocation, quietly worked on for several months until he had completed a wooden crucifix of the same size, of extraordinary excellence, and designed with great art and diligence. 2 He then sent Donato to his house before him, quite ignorant of the fact that Filippo had made such a work, so that he broke an apron-full of egg- and things for their meal which he had with him, while he regarded the marvel with transport, noting the art and skill shown by Filippo in the legs, body and arms of the figure, the whole being so finely and harmoniously composed that Donato not only acknowledged himself beaten but proclaimed the work as a miracle. It is now placed in S. Maria Novella, between the Chapel of the Strozzi and that of the Bardi of Vernio, where it is still greatly admired by the moderns. The worth of these truly excellent masters being thus made apparent, they were commissioned by the art of the butchers and the art of the linen- drapers to make two marble figures for their niches in Or. Michele. Filippo left Donato to do these by himself, as he himself was otherwise engaged, and Donato brought them to a successful completion. After this, in the year 1401, it was proposed to make the two bronze doors of the church and baptistery of S. Giovanni, sculpture having advanced so greatly, because from the time of the death of Andrea Pisano there had not been any masters capable of carrying them out. Accordingly this purpose was made known to the sculptors then in Tuscany, who were invited to come, provided with maintenance and set to prepare a panel. Among those thus invited were Filippo and Donato, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Jacopo della Fonte, Simono da Colle, Francesco di Valdambrina and Niccolo d' Arezzo. The panels were completed that same year, and when they came to be exhibited in competition they were all most beautiful, each different from the other. That of Donato was well designed and badly executed; that of Jacopo dalla Quercia was well designed and executed, but with faulty perspective of the figures; that of Francesco di Valdambrina had poor invention and tiny figures; the worst of all were those of Niccolo d' Arezzo and Simone da Colle, and the best that of Lorenzo di Ghiberti, combining design, diligence, invention and art, the figures being beautifully made. Not much inferior to his, however, was the panel of Filippo, on which he had represented Abraham sacrificing Isaac, with a servant extracting a thorn from his foot while waiting for Abraham, and an ass grazing, which merits considerable praise. When the scenes came to be exhibited, Filippo and Donato were only satisfied with that of Lorenzo, judging it to be better adapted to its peculiar purpose than those of the others. So they persuaded the consuls with good arguments that the work should be given to Lorenzo, showing that both public and private ends would be best served thereby. This was a true act of friendship, a virtue without envy, and a clear judgment of their own limitations, so that they deserve more praise than if they had completed that work themselves. Happy spirits who, while assisting each other, rejoice in praising the work of others. How unhappy are the men of our own times, who try to injure others, and burst with envy if they cannot vent their malice. Filippo was requested by the consuls to undertake the work together with Lorenzo, but he refused, as he preferred to be the first in another art, rather than be equal or second in that. He presented his bronze to Cosimo de' Medici, who eventually caused it to be put in the old sacristy of S. Lorenzo, as the redo of the altar, where it now is, while that of Donato was put in the art of the changers. 3 After the doors had been allotted to Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo and Donato met, and determined to leave Florence and go to Rome for a year or so, the one to study architecture and the other sculpture. Filippo did this because he wished to be superior to Lorenzo and Donato, since architecture is much more useful to men than either painting or sculpture. After Filippo had sold a small property of his at Settignano, they left Florence and proceeded to Rome, where at the sight of the grandeur of the buildings, and the perfection of the churches, Filippo was lost in wonder, so that he looked like one demented. He set to work to measure the cornices and take the plans of these buildings. He and Donato were constantly going about and spared neither time nor money. They left no place unvisited, either in Rome or its neighbourhood, and took measurements of everything when they had the opportunity. As Filippo was free from the cares of a family, he abandoned himself to his studies, neglecting to sleep and to eat, his only concern being architecture, which had been corrupted, studying the good ancient orders and not the barbarous Gothic style then in general use.
Two great ideals possessed him: the one to bring back to light the true architecture, whereby he believed he should make a name for himself not inferior to that of Giotto and Cimabue, the other was to find a method, if possible, of vaulting the cupola of S. Maria del Fiore at Florence, the difficulty of which had deterred anyone, after the death of Arnolfo Lapi, from wishing to attempt it, except by incurring a great expense for a wooden covering. However, he did not communicate this purpose of his to Donato or to any living soul, but in Rome be attentively observed Bill the difficulties of the vaulting of the Rotonda. He had noted and drawn all the vaulting in the antique, and he was continually studying the subject, and if pieces of capitals, columns, cornices and bases of buildings were found buried he and Donato set to work and dug them out to find the foundations. From this a report spread in Rome, when they passed by, carelessly dressed, and they were called the men of the treasure, for it was believed that they were studying necromancy in order to find treasure. The reason for this was that one day they had found an ancient earthen vessel full of medals. Filippo came to be short of money and he went about setting precious jewels for some goldsmiths, friends of his. On nonato returning to Florence he was left alone, and he studied the more ardently and diligently among the ruins of ancient buildings. He drew every sort of building, round and square, and octagonal churches, basilicas, aqueducts, baths, arches, coliseums, amphitheatres, and every temple of brick, noting the methods of binding and clamping as well as the turning of the vaulting. Finding by examination that all the large stones had a hole in the middle of the under-side, for the iron tool used for drawing the stones up, called by us the ulivella, he reintroduced this system and brought it into general use. He then studied the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders, one after the other, and to such purpose that he was able to reconstruct in his mind's eye the aspect of Rome as it stood before its fall.
The air of the city caused him a slight disorder in the year 1407, and he was advised by his friends to take a change. Accordingly he returned to Florence, where many buildings had suffered by his absence, and on his arrival he was enabled to supply many designs and much advice. The same year there took place a gathering of architects and engineers of the district upon the method of vaulting the cupola, at the instance of the wardens of S. Maria del Fiore and the consuls of the art of wool. In this Filippo took part, giving his advice that it was necessary to take away the roof of the building and not to follow Arnolfo's design, but to raise the walls fifteen braccia, and make a large eye in the middle of each face, for this would both lessen the weight on the piers beneath and the cupola could be vaulted more easily. Models accordingly were prepared and the work started. One morning, some months after his return, Filippo was on the piazza of S. Maria del Fipre with Donato and other artists discussing antique sculptures, and Donato was relating how, when he returned from Rome, he had made a journey to Orvieto, to see the far-famed marble facade of the Duomo, the work of various masters, and considered a notable thing at that time, and how, in passing afterwards through Cortona, he had entered the Pieve, and seen a remarkable ancient marble sarcophagus, with a bas-relief, 4 a rare thing then, for the multitude of things discovered in our day had not then been dug out. Donato went on to say how excellently the master had done his work, describing the perfection and beauty with which he had completed it, and so inflamed Filippo with an ardent desire to see it that, just as he was, in his mantle, hood and sabots, he left them without saying a word of where he was going, and proceeded to Cortona, led by his love and affection for art. He saw the sarcophagus, admired it, and made a drawing of it, with which he returned to Florence without Donato or anyone else being aware that he had left the city, for they thought he must be engaged upon designing or contriving something. On his return he showed his carefully executed drawing, and Donato greatly marvelled at this proof of Filippo's love for his art. He remained many months at Florence, where he secretly made many models and machines, all designed for the work of the cupola, always joking witli his fellow-artists, this being the time of his jest about the fat man and Matteo. 5 He also frequently went to assist Lorenzo Ghiberti in the polishing of his doors, by way of relaxation. But one morning the whim took him to leave for Rome, for he knew that it was proposed to appoint engineers to vault the cupola, and he thought it would round more to his credit if he were sent for from a distance than if he remained in Florence. Accordingly, while he was at Rome he received a letter begging him to come to Florence, for they had considered the nature of the work and the sagacity of his mind, as he had exhibited a confidence and courage which had not been shown by the other masters, who were totally at a loss, as were the builders, being helplessly convinced that a method could never be found to vault the cupola, and that beams large enough to span the distance and bear the weight of such a structure above them did not exist.
Filippo, who wished for nothing better, returned with the utmost alacrity. On his arrival, the wardens of S. Maria del Fiore and the consuls of the art of wool met together and told him all the t' difficulties, from the least to the greatest, which had been raised by the masters, who were also present. Filippo answered as follows: "Wardens, there is no doubt that great things always present difficulties in their execution, and this particular one offers questions especially hard to solve, harder than you are perhaps aware. I do not know if even the ancients ever vaulted anything so tremendous as this, and I have often thought of the framework, both within and without, and how it might be safely constructed, and I have never been able to make up my mind for the breadth of the building troubles me no less than its height. It had been circular, it would have been possible to follow the methods observed by the Romans in vaulting the Pantheon or Rotonda at Rome, but here it is necessary to follow the eight sides, and to dovetail and chain the stones together, question of great difficulty. But when I remember that the church is dedicated to God and to the Virgin, I am confident that what is done in their memory will not fail for lack of knowledge, and that the architect will receive aid in his strength, wisdom and ingenuity. But of what assistance can I be, as the work is none of mine. However, I will say that if the work were entrusted to me, I should resolutely set myself to find a means of vaulting it without too much trouble; but I have not yet thought of the matter, and yet you wish me to find a means. But if you propose to have it vaulted, you should not appeal to me only, for I do not think I am competent to give advice on so great a matter, but you should ordain that within a year, and on an appointed day architects shall come to Florence, not only Tuscans and Italians but Germans, French, and others, to give their advice, so that after the question has been discussed and settled by so many masters; the work may be begun, and be entrusted to the man who will give proof of the best methods and ability to carry it out. I can give you no better advice than this." This suggestion of Filippo pleased the consuls and wardens, but they would have preferred him to have made a model in the meantime, and to have devoted his attention to the question. But he affected carelessness, and, having taken leave of them, said that he had received letters requesting him to return to Rome. When the consuls perceived that their prayers, united with those of the wardens, could not detain him, they induced many of his friends to use their influence, and a- this did not succeed, one morning, on the 26th May, 1417, the wardens decreed him an allowance of money, which is to be found debited to him in the books of the opera, all this being done to satisfy him. But he remained firm to his purpose, and leaving Florence he returned to Rome, where he devoted himself to constant study in preparation for this great work, for he felt confident that no one but himself could carry it out. His advice about bringing new architects to consult had been given with no other purpose but in order that they might bring their testimony to the greatness of his genius, rather than because he thought that they would find a means to vault the tribune and take up such a difficult burden, A great deal of time was lost before the architects assembled. They were summoned from afar by means of directions given to the Florentine merchants living in France, Germany, England and Spain, who were commissioned to spend any amount of money to obtain the principal, most experienced and gifted men of those regions.
At length, in 1420, all these foreign masters and those of Tuscany were assembled at Florence with all the principal Florentine artists, and Filippo returned from Rome. They all met together in the Opera of S. Maria del Fiore, in the presence of the consuls and wardens and a chosen number of the ablest citizens, so that, after the opinion of everyone had been taken, the method of vaulting the tribune might be determined. They sent for the architects one by one and heard what they had to suggest. It was a remarkable thing to hear the curious and varied opinions upon the subject, for some said that they would build pillars from the ground level to bear arches to carry the beams which should support the weight; others thought it would be good to vault it with pumice stone, so that the weight might be lighter; and many agreed to make a pillar in the middle and construct It in the manner of a tent, like that of S. Giovanni at Florence; and there were not wanting those who said that it would be a good thing to fill the space with earth mixed with small coin and vault it, giving the people licence to go and take the earth so that it should be removed without cost. Filippo alone said that he could easily vault it without so many beams and pillars or earth, at a less expense than would be involved by a quantity of arches, and without a framework. The consuls expected some flighty plan, and the wardens and all the citizens thought that Filippo had spoken like a madman, and they mocked at him, telling him to speak of something else, as his plan was the device of a fool. Filippo grew angry and said, "Sirs, reflect that it is not possible to do the thing in any other way, and yet you mock me, although you must know, if you are not obstinate, that it must not and cannot be done otherwise. According to the method I have thought out it is necessary to employ the ogive shape, and to make two vaults, an outer and an inner, with sufficient space to walk between them, and that the structure must be bound together at the angles of the eight sides by dove-tailing the stones, and by oak ties over the front of it. More- over, it is necessary to consider the lights, the ladders, and the channels for carrying off the rain-water. And not one of you has thought that places may be prepared inside for making mosaics, and many other difficult things; but I who see the place vaulted know that there is no other way than the one I have described." The more he warmed in speaking in seeking to make his ideas clear so that they might understand and believe, the more doubts suggested themselves to them, causing them to believe less and to consider him foolish and flighty. Thus, after they had waved him off several times and he would not go, he was carried out from the audience by force by some youths, everyone thinking him utterly mad. Filippo afterwards said that he did not at that time dare to go into any part of the city for fear of it being said, "There goes that madman." The consuls at the audience were left in a state of confusion, both by the difficult methods of the first masters, and by the last one of Filippo, which they could not understand, for they thought that there were two stumbling- blocks in his way: the one being the double roofs which would be a great weight, and the other the construction without a framework.
On the other hand, Filippo, who had studied the matter for so many years in order to get the work, was at a loss 1what to do, and was frequently tempted to leave Florence. Yet, as he wished to conquer, he must need arm himself with patience, and he had seen enough to know the volatile nature of his fellow-citizens. He might have shown a small model which he had by him, but he did not wish to, because he saw how little the consuls understood and realised the envy of the artists and the instability of the citizens, who favoured now one and now another, according to the caprice of the moment. I do not wonder at this, for everyone in the city professes to know as much as the skilled masters, although those who really know are few. But what Filippo had not been able to do before the united magistracy he attempted to achieve by attacking individuals, speaking with a consul here, a warden there, and to many citizens, and showing a part of his plan, so that he succeeded in getting them to decide to allot the work either to him or to one of the foreigners. Encouraged by this the consuls, wardens and citizens met together, and the architects disputed on the matter. But they were all routed by Filippo, and it is said that the dispute of the egg arose during these discussions. They wanted Filippo to declare his plan in detail, and to show his model as they had shown theirs, but he refused, and proposed to the masters assembled that whoever should make an egg stand upright on a flat marble surface should make the cupola, as this would be a test of their ability. He produced an egg and all the masters endeavoured to make it stand, but no one succeeded. Then they passed it to Filippo, who lightly took it, broke the end with a blow on the marble and made it stand. All the artists cried out that they could have done as much themselves, but Filippo answered laughing that they would also know how to vault the cupola after they had seen his model and design. And it was resolved that he should have the conduct of the work, and he was invited to supply the consuls and wardens with fuller information. He returned home and wrote on a sheet the gist of his plan, as clearly as he could, to give it to the magistrates, in this form: "Sirs, in taking into consideration the difficulties of this structure, I find that it is impossible for anyone to make it perfectly round, seeing that the space over which the lantern is to go would be so great that, when any weight was put there, the whole would speedily fall down. Yet it appears to me that those the architects who have not an eye to the eternity of their buildings, have no care for their memory and do not know what they are about. I accordingly resolved to make the inside of the vault in sections, corresponding with the outside, adopting the manner of the pointed arch, as that tends most upward, and when the weight of the lantern is imposed the whole will be made durable. The thickness of the mass at the base is to be braccia, and it will diminish pyramidically as it rises to the point where the junction with the lantern is to be made, where it will be braccia thick. Then another vault is to be made outside the first one, braccia thick at the base, to preserve the inside one from the weather. This will also diminish in thickness towards the top, so that at the point of its junction with the lantern it will only be of a braccia in width. At every angle there will be a buttress, eight in all, and two for each front including one in the middle and making sixteen in all. On the inside and outside in the middle of the angles at each front there will be two buttresses, each one braccia thick at the base. The two vaults will rise pyramidically in due relation to each other to the top of the circle which is closed by the lantern. Thus 24 buttresses in all will be made about the vaulting and six long arches of hard stone, well braced with iron, and covered over, the stonework and buttresses being all bound together with an iron chain. The masonry must be solid without a break to a height of braccia, and then come the buttresses and the springs of the vaulting. The first and second circles will be strengthened at the base with long blocks of macigno stone set horizontally, so that both vaults of the cupola shall rest upon these stones. At every braccia in the vaulting there will be small arches the buttresses with ties of thick oak to bind the buttresses which support the inside vaulting. These oak ties will be covered with iron plates for the sake of the ascents. The masonry of the buttresses is to be entirely of macigno, as are the sidesof the cupola, the walls to be tied to the buttresses to the height of 24 braccia and then built of bricks or pumice stone, as those who make it may decide, to obtain the utmost possible lightness. Outside a promenade will be made above the round windows with a terrace below and open parapets 2 braccia high, similar to the galleries below, forming two promenades one above the other on a decorated cornice, the upper one being open to the sky. The water will be carried off the cupola in a marble channel. A braccia wide, and will throw the water to a part made of strong stone below the channel. On the outside of the cupola there will be eight marble ribs at the angles, as large as is necessary, I braccia high, above the cupola, curved at the head, 2 braccia wide, so that there may be eaves and gutters everywhere. These must have a pyramidical form from the base to the top. The cupola will be built as aforesaid, without a framework, to the height of 20 braccia, and the rest in the manner preferred by the masters who are charged with the work, as practice will show the best method.
When Filippo had finished writing the above, he went in the morning to the magistrates and, on his showing them this sheet, they proceeded to consider it, and although they were not able to grasp it, yet, seeing the confidence of Filippo and that none of the other architects were on more certain ground, while he always exhibited the utmost assurance in his replies, which would have led one to suppose that he had already vaulted ten such spaces, the consuls withdrew apart and proposed to give him the work. However, they wished to be shown how the vaulting could be made without a framework, though they approved of all the rest. Fortune favoured this desire, for since Bartolommeo Barbadori had previously proposed to erect a chapel at S. Felicita, and had consulted Filippo about it, the latter had undertaken the work, and caused the chapel to be vaulted without a framework. It is on the right as one enters the church, as is the holy-water vessel by the same hand. About the same time Filippo vaulted another chapel at S. Jacopo sopr' Arno for Stiatta Ridolfi, next to the chapel of the high altar, and these things inspired more confidence than his arguments. The consuls and the wardens being thus reassured by the document and the work which they had seen, allotted the cupola to him, making him head master by a majority of votes. But they would not allow him to build higher than twelve braccia, saying that they wished to see how the work succeeded, and that if every- thing prospered in the manner described by him, they would not fail to allow him to complete the rest. It seemed strange to Filippo that the consuls and wardens should display so much hardness and mistrust, and if he had not known that he was the only man who could accomplish the task he would not have undertaken it. However, his desire of glory led him to accept it, and he undertook to bring it to completion. His sheet was copied into a book, where the overseer entered the debtors and creditors for timber and marble. The same provision was made for his payment as other masters had received up to that time. When the artists and citizens learned that the work had been allotted to Filippo, some approved and others shook their heads, as people always do, some being thoughtless and others envious. While preparations for the building were going forward, a coterie of artists and citizens banded together and went to the consuls and wardens, representing that the matter had been too hastily settled, and that a work of such importance ought not to be entrusted to a single man. If they had no men of ability this would be pardonable, but there were many such, and the city would incur reproach; for when some accident happened, such as sometimes occur during great constructions, they would be blamed for having imposed so great a burden on one man alone, not to speak of the loss and shame which would thereby result to the public; and, besides, it would be well to give Filippo a colleague in order to bridle his ardour. Lorenzo Ghiberti had proved his genius in the doors of S. Giovanni, and that he had influence with some who had power with the governors was clearly shown, for when they saw how Filippo's renown was growing they contrived that Ghiberti should be associated with him; in the work, under the pretext of their love and affection for the building. Filippo was rendered so desperate and bitter when he heard what the wardens had done, that he proposed to flee from Florence, and had it not been for the consolations of Donato and Luca della Robbia he might have lost his reason. Fell and cruel indeed is the rage of those who in the blindness of their envy endanger honoured things and beautiful works in the strife of ambition. It was no thanks to them that Filippo did not break his models; tear up his plans, and in less than half an hour destroy all the labour of so many years. The wardens first made excuses to Filippo and persuaded him to proceed since he and no other was the inventor and author of the work, but nevertheless they gave Lorenzo the same salary. Filippo pursued his work with no good will, for he knew that all the labour would devolve upon him while he would have to share the honour and renown with Lorenzo.
However, he took courage in the assurance that this condition would not endure for long, and together with Lorenzo he proceeded with the building in the manner described in his letter to the wardens. It then occurred to Filippo that he would make a model, as he had not previously done so, and having set his hand to it he gave it to Bartolommeo, a carpenter, to execute, a man who lived near his studio. In this he made all the difficult things to scale, such as the lighted and dark staircases, all manner of lights, doors, chains, and buttresses and also a part of the gallery. When Lorenzo heard of this he tried to see it, but as Filippo refused he became angry and determined to make a model of his own, in order that he might not appear to be drawing his salary for doing nothing. For his model Filippo received 50 lire 15 soldi, as appears by an entry in the book of Migliore di Tommaso, on 3rd October 1419, while Lorenzo Ghiberti was paid 300 lire for his trouble and expense, the reason for the difference being his greater influence and favour rather than any benefit or need that the building had of it. This torment of Filippo lasted until the end of 1426, Lorenzo and himself being equally known as the inventors, a thing which kept Filippo's mind in a perpetual state of ferment. Having planned many different ways he determined to rid himself of this incubus, knowing how little Lorenzo could do in the work. Filippo had carried the double vaulting of the cupola to a height of 2 braccia, and now the chains of stone and timber were to put up. As this was a difficult task, he decided to speak of it to Lorenzo in order to see whethhr he had taken this difficulty into consideration. So far was Lorenzo from having thought of such a thing that he answered that he relied on Filippo as being the inventor. This answer pleased Filippo, for it suggested a means of removing Lorenzo from the work and of showing that he did not possess the intelligence presupposed by his friends and by the favour which had put him where he was. The workmen were at a standstill, waiting for the beginning of the work above the 2 braccia, the construction of the vaulting and the making of the chains. They had already begun to close the cupola towards the top. For this it became necessary to make a scaffolding in order that the work- men and builders might work without danger. The height was such that a glance below was sufficient to make the blood and cold. The builders and other masters accordingly were waiting for directions for making the chains and the scaffolding, and as they heard nothing either from Lorenzo or from Filippo there arose a murmuring among them seeing that matters were not being carried on so rapidly as at first. Being poor men who lived by their hands, they feared that neither of the masters had the courage to proceed with the work, the best they could do being to finish and polish so much as had already been built. One morning Filippo did not appear at the work, bound up his head, took to his bed and called for hot plates and linen, pretending that he had the colic. When the masters who were waiting for orders heard this they went to Lorenzo and asked what they were to do. He answered that Filippo had the direction, and that it was necessary to wait for him. One of them asked, "But do you not know his intentions ?" "Yes," said Lorenzo, "but I will do nothing without him." This he said to excuse himself, for he had not seen Filippo's model and had never asked him what Plan he meant to follow, but in order that he might not appear ignorant he answered guardedly and in ambiguous words, particularly as he knew that he was in this work against Filippo's will.
After the latter's illness had lasted for more than two days, the overseer of the work and several master builders went to see him and insisted that he should tell them what was to be done. He answered: "You have Lorenzo, let him do something," and nothing more could be drawn from him. When they heard this they fell to discussing the matter and greatly blamed the manner of the work. Some said that Filippo had taken to his bed from grief that he had not sufficient courage to undertake the vaulting and that he repented of having ever begun it; his friends defended him, saying that his displeasure was caused by the disgrace of having Lorenzo given to him for a colleague, and that his pleurisy was caused by his efforts in the work. Mean- while the building came to a standstill, and the builders and stone cutteis were all but idle, so that they begun to murmur against Lorenzo, saying, "He can draw his salary all right, but cannot give directions for the work. If Filippo does not come, or if his illness lasts a long time, how will he manage? What fault of his is it that he is ill?" He wardens seeing the discredit attached to them for this state of affairs resolved to visit Filippo, and on their arrival, after condoling with him for his sickness, they informed him of the disorder in which the building then was and what trouble his sickness had caused. With words made passionate by his feint of illness and by his love for the work Filippo replied, "Is not Lorenzo there? Why does not he do something? I wonder at you coming to me." "He will do nothing without you," answered the wardens. "I could manage very well without him," was Filippo's retort. This sharp and two- edged answer sufficed them, and they departed, recognising that he was sick from his desire to have the work to himself. They therefore sent his friends to take him from his bed, intending to remove Lorenzo from the work. Filippo returned to the building, but perceiving the power and the influence behind Lorenzo, which allowed him to draw his salary without doing any of the work, he determined to find another method of holding him up to scorn and exposing his ignorance. Accordingly, in Lorenzo's Presence, he made this proposal to the wardens: "Sirs, if we could ourselves determine the length of our own existence there can be no doubt that many works which are now left unfinished would have been completed. The accident of my recent sickness might have resulted in my death and stopped this work; yet in case either Lorenzo or myself falls sick, which God forefend, and that the progress of the work may not be suspended, it has occurred to me that as you, sirs, have divided the salary, so we may divide the work in order that each of us may show his knowledge, and be in a position to will honour and profit from the republic. We have at present two difficulties to solve: one is the scaffolding to permit the buildings on the outside and inside of the structure to work in safety, as it is necessary for it to sustain men, stones and mortar, as well as the crane for lifting weights, and other similar instruments; the other is the chain which is to be placed above the 2 braccia, to bind together the eight sides of the cupola in order that the whole of the superimposed weight may be so distributed that it will not push or spread but rest equally upon the entire edifice. Let Lorenzo take the one of these which he believes himself most capable of doing, so that I may prove my ability to deal successfully with the other, and that more time may not be lost." Lorenzo was bound in honour to accept one of these undertakings, however unwillingly, and he decided to take the chain as being more easy, trusting to the advice of the masons, and reflecting that there was a stone chain in the vaulting of S. Giovanni of Florence from which he might derive hints for a part if not the whole of the work. Thus one set to work at the scaffolding and the other at the chain, both completing their task. The scaffolding of Filippo was constructed with such ingenuity and industry that the contrary of what many had expected proved true, because the masons worked there in such security, drew up weights, and stood there as safely as if they had been on the level ground. The models of the scaffolding remained in the Opera. Lorenzo, with the utmost difficulty, succeeded in making the chain on one of the eight sides, and when it was completed the wardens brought Filippo to see it, but he said nothing to them. However, he spoke about it to some of his friends, saying that it was necessary to have a different ligature from that, and to have it laid in another fashion, and that it was not sufficient for the weight that was to be placed upon it, and would not stand the pressure, and that Lorenzo's salary as well as the money spent upon the chain had been thrown away. Filippo's opinion became known, and he was asked to show what he would have done if he had been employed to make the chain. As he had already made designs and models for this, he immediately produced them, and when the wardens and the other masters had seen these they recognised their mistake in favouring Lorenzo.
Wishing to atone for this rector, hid to show that they were capable of recognising excellence, they made Filippo director and head of the work for life, and provided that nothing should be done without his consent. To prove their recognition of his work, they paid him zoo florins down, by a resolution of the consuls and wardens on s3th August, 1423, given by the hand of Lorenzo Paoli, notary of the work, to be paid by M. Gherardo di M. Filippo Corsini, and made him a provision of 100 florins yearly for life. Accordingly Filippo gave instructions for the continuation of the work, and he followed its progress so closely that not a stone was laid without his personal supervision. On the other hand, Lorenzo, though vanquished and disgraced, was so favoured and assisted by his friends, that he continued to draw his salary, arguing that he could not be removed before the expiry of three years. Filipio was continually making designs for the smallest details, constructing models for scaffolds, and devising machines for raising weights. However, this did not prevent some ill-disposed persons, friends of Lorenzo, from annoying him by constantly making models in competition against him, to such an extent that Master Antonio da Verzelli made one, and other masters favoured and put forward by one citizen or another, showing their fickleness, ignorance and lack of understanding, for they possessed perfect things and they put forward imperfect and useless ones. At length the chains round the eight sides were completed, and the builders worked with spirit and a will; but as Filippo required more of them than before, and found fault daily with the building or some particulars, they became discontented. The leaders then took counsel together, saying that the work was difficult and dangerous, and they would not go on with it except at high wages, although their pay had been higher than the usual rate. In this way they hoped to be revenged on Filippo, and to benefit themselves. This dispute was equally displeasing to the wardens and to Filippo, and the latter, after thinking over the matter, took the step one Saturday of dismissing all his workmen. Finding themselves thus dismissed, and not knowing what the outcome would be, these men waited results, full of ill-will. But the following Monday Filippo set ten Lombards on the work, and stood over them himself, saying, Do this and that, and in one day he succeeded in teaching them so much that they continued to work there for many weeks. On the other hand, the builders who saw themselves dismissed and deprived of employment as well as put to shame, since they had no other work which was equally desirable, sent representations to Filippo that they were willing to return, pressing him to take them. But he kept them in suspense for many lays, pretending that he did not want them, and at length engaged them at less 1vages than they had received before. Thus instead of gaining advantage for themselves, and being revenged on Filippo, they suffered loss and contumely.
The murmurers had now been silenced, and the genius of Filippo had so far triumphed in the smooth progress of the building, that all who were not blinded by passion considered that he had displayed more ability in this structure than almost any other artist, ancient or modem. This feeling was caused by his producing his model, by which he showed with what care he had considered every detail: the ladders, the lights within and without, so that no one could injure himself in the darkness, and various iron staples for the purpose of mounting where it was steep, and similar considerations. Besides this, he had devised the iron staples to bear the scaffolding inside if it was ever to be a domed with mosaics or painting, and had put in the least dangerous places the channels for carrying off the water, showing where they should be covered, and where uncovered, a hanging spaces and apertures to break the force of the winds, and to provide that tempests and earthquake should not injure the structure, in all which things he proved how much he had profited by the long years he spent at Rome. When one considers how much attention he had paid to the joints, incrustations, nailing and ties of stone, one trembles at the thought that a single mind could compass so much. So greatly did his abilities increase that there was nothing, however difficult and hard, which he did not render easy and smooth. 6 For example, he devised a method of raising weights by means of counterpoises and pulleys, so that a single Ox was able to draw as much as six pair would otherwise have had difficulty in pulling. The building had by this time grown so much that it was a considerable journey to reach it from the ground, and much time was lost by the workmen in going to eat and drink, while they suffered great discomfort from the heat of the day. Filippo therefore contrived that inns should be opened on the cupola, where food could be cooked and wine sold. In this way no one left the work except at evening, which was a great advantage to the men and a considerable gain to the work. The progress and success of the building infused Filippo with more and more courage, and his efforts were unremitting. He would frequently go to the brick-kilns and examine the clay there, rubbing it carefully in his hands. He carefully examined the stones of the stonecutters to see that they were hard or if they contained any flaws, and showed them the way to make the joints by models made of wood and wax, or even of turnips, and doing the like with the ironwork for the smiths. He discovered a method of making hinges with a head and pivots, a great gain to architecture, which was indeed brought by him to a perfection probably never equalled among the Tuscans. In the year 1423 Florence was delighted by the election of Filippo as one of the Signory by the quarter of S. Giovanni for the months of May and June, Lapo Niccolini being chosen gon-faloniere of justice by the quarter of S. Croce. In the Register Filippo is entered as Filippo ser Brunellesco Lippo, but this need not excite surprise, as he was thus named correctly after Lippo, his grandfather, and not de' Lapi. The Register contains similar examples in the case of others, as is well known by those who are acquainted with the ways of that time.
Filippo performed the duties of that office as well as of other magistracies which he had in the city, in which he always displayed the weightiest judgment. As the vaulting was by this time being closed at the point where the lantern was to begin, Filippo had to decide finally what he would put there, although he had made more models of both vaults in clay and in wood, both at Rome and at Florence, than had been exhibited. Accordingly he determined to complete the gallery, and made various designs for it, which were in the Opera after his death, but have been lost owing to the carelessness of those in charge there. In our own day a part of one was made on one of the eight sides, but as it did not match the other work it was abandoned by the advice of Michelagnolo Buonarotti. Filippo also made a model for the lantern with eight sides, which is very beautiful for its originality, variety and decoration. He made a ladder up to the hall which was a marvel, but as he had stopped it up with a little wood at the point of entrance, no one but himself suspected its existence. Although he was now praised, and had overcome the envy and arrogance of many, yet he was not able to prevent all the masters in Florence from making their models in various fashions, so that even a lady of the house of Gaddi ventured to set up her judgment in competition with his. He, however, simply laughed at the presumption of others, and when his friends told him that he ought not to show his model to any aritst in order that they might not learn anything from it, he answered that there was only one true model and all the rest were vain. Some of the masters had adopted parts of Filippo's model in their own, so that when he saw them he said, "The next model of So-and-so will be entirely mine." Praise was lavished upon Filippo's work by all, but as they did not see any steps to ascend to the ball they concluded that it was defective. However, the wardens decided to allot this work to him, but stipulated that he should show them the way up. Filippo then removed the piece of wood at the base of the model and showed the ascent in a pillar in the form in which it exists today, of a vaulted cylinder, and on one side a channel with bronze rings, where, by placing one foot after another, one may ascend to the top. He did not live to see the completion of the lantern, but he left directions in his will that it should be built as the model showed, and as he had directed in writing. If done otherwise he declared that the structure would fall, as it was vaulted in ogive and needed a counterpoising weight to render it more strong. He was not permitted to see this structure completed before his death, but was able to complete several braccia of it. He caused almost all the marble there to be well prepared. The people who saw it were amazed, believing it impossible that he could intend to place so great a weight above the vaulting. It was the opinion of many engineers that it would not bear the strain, and they thought it was a temptation of Providence to load it so heavily after having brought the work to that point. Filippo only laughed and made ready all the machines and every arrangement for the purpose of building, his brain being constantly busy in preparing and providing for every detail, even to the point of arranging that the worked marble should not be chipped when being raised into position. Thus all the arches of the tabernacles were eased in a wooden framework, and for the rest he left written instructions and models, as I have said. The extraordinary beauty of the structure is self-evident. Its height from the ground-level to the lantern is 104 braccia, the lantern itself being 36 braccia, the copper ball 4 braccia, and the cross 8 braccia, making 202 braccia in all. It may be safely asserted that the ancients never raised their buildings so high or incurred such great risks in contending with the skies as this building appears to, for it rises to such a height that the mountains about Florence look like its fellows. Indeed one would say that the heavens are incensed against it since it is continually being struck by lightning. Whilst this work was in progress Filippo erected many other buildings, as I shall describe in order below.
With his own hand he made the model of the chapter-house of S. Croce in Florence for the family of the Pazzi, 7 a work of great and varied beauty, and the model of the house of the Busini, 8 for the use of two families, and also the model for the house and loggia of the Innocenti, 9 the vaulting of which was erected without a scaffolding, a method now universally adopted. It is said that Filippo was invited to Milan to make the model for a fortress for the duke, Filippo Maria, and that he left the care of the structure of the Innocenti to his close friend, Francesco della Luna. This Francesco made the surrounding ornamentation of an architrave, Naning downward from above, which is false according to architecture, When Filippo returned and blamed him for this, he replied that he had taken it from the church of S. Giovanni, which is ancient. "It is the only error in that building," replied Filippo, "and you have copied it." The model of this building by Filippo's hand was for many years in the art of Por S. Maria, and much valued as the structure was to have been completed. Today it is lost. Filippo made the model of the abbey of the Regular Canons of Fiesole for Cosimo de' Medici. 10 It is a very ornate architecture, convenient and delightful; in fine really magnificent. The church with its barrel vaulting is roomy, the sacristy has its own conveniences, and indeed so has every other part of the monastery. But the most important consideration is that, having to erect the building on the flat on the steep side of the mountain; he made use of the basement with great skill, making cellars, lavatories, ovens, stables, kitchens, stores for wood, and other like conveniences, so that better could not be desired. He thus obtained a level base for his building, so that he was afterwards able to make on one plane the refectory, infirmary, noviciate, dormitory, library and other principal apartments of a monastery. All this was done at the cost of Cosimo de' Medici, both on account of his deep Christian piety and because of the affection he bore to Don Timoteo da Verona, a most excellent preacher of the order. In order the better to enjoy his conversation, he made many roonis for himself in the monastery, and lived there at his ease. On this building Cosimo spent 200,000 crowns, as we see by an inscription. 11 Filippo also designed the model of the fortress of Vicopisano, and at Pisa he designed the old citadel and fortified the sea bridge, while he further designed the new citadel for enclosing the bridge with the two towers. He also made the model of the fortress of the harbour of Pesaro, and on his return to Milan he did many things for the duke, including plans for the builders of the Duomo. At that time the church of S. Lorenzo at Florence was begun 12 by order of the parishioners, who had made the prior chief director of the works, he being a person who professed to understand such things, and who amused himself with architecture as a pastilne, The building had already been started with brick pillars when Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, who had promised the parishioners and the prior that he would make the sacristy and a chapel at his own cost, invited Filippo to breakfast one morning, and after some preliminary conversation asked him his opinion about the new church. Filippo was constrained by Giovanni's prayers to give his Opinion, and in speaking the truth blamed it in many things as a building designed by a man who probably had more learning than experience in such structures. Giovanni asked Filippo if he could devise anything better and finer, to which the latter replied, "Without doubt, and I wonder that you, as head, do not spend several thousand crowns and make a church with all that is requisite for the place and for the numerous family tombs of nobles, who, when they see a start made, will follow with their chapels to the utmost of their power, especially as we leave no other memory but the walls which bear witness to their authors for hundreds and thousands of years." Stirred by these words of Filippo, Giovanni determined to make the sacristy and principal chapel together with the body of the church, although no more than seven other houses would join him, the others not having the means, these seven being the Rondinelli, Ginori, dalla Stufa, Neroni, Ciai, Marignolli, Martelli and Marco di Luca, and these chapels were to be made in the cross. The sacristy was the first thing to be put in hand, and the church was afterwards built by degrees. And ill the nave of the church chapels were granted one by one to notable citizens. The roofing in of the sacristy was no sooner completed than Giovanni de' He did passed to the other life, 13 leaving his son Cosimo. The latter being more enterprising than his father, and loving to cherish his memory, caused this building to be carried on. It was the first thing that he built, and he took such delight in it that up to the time of his death he was always erecting something there. Cosimo prosecuted this work with more ardour, and while one thing was under deliberation had another one completed. Having taken up this work as a pastime he was almost continued at it, and his care provided that Filippo should finish the sacristy whilst Donato made the stucco as well as the stone Ornament above and the bronze doors of the porch. There also he made his father Giovanni's tomb under a large marble slab, borne by four little columns, and standing in the midst of the sacristy, where the priests get ready. In the same place he made the tombs of his house, separating the women from the men, and in one of the two small chambers on either side of the altar of the sacristy he made a basin on one side and a place to wash the hands; in fact everything done there shows great judgment. Giovanni and the others had proposed to make the choir in the middle under the tribune. At Filippo's desire Cosimo moved it, so as to increase the size of the large chapel, which had been i small recess in the first design, and to be able to place the choir there as it now is. When this was finished, the middle tribune and the rest of the church still remained to be done, and these were not vaulted until after Filippo's death. The church is 544 braccia long and it contains many errors, among others that the columns rest on the ground without a dado beneath, which ought to reach to the level of the bases of the pilasters, placed upon the steps. The pilaster thus looks shorter than the column, and gives the whole work a stunted appearance. This was due to the advice of those who survived Filippo, who envied his name, and who in his lifetime had made models against him. While Filippo lived he ridiculed them in his sonnets, but after his death they revenged themselves not only in this work, but in all that was left to them to do. Filippo left the model, and a part of the capitular buildings of the priests of S. Lorenzo was finished in which he made the cloister 544 braccia long.
Whilst this work was going on, Cosimo de' Medici wished to build his palace, and accordingly opened his mind to Filippo, who, putting aside every other care, made him a most beautiful large model for it. He wished to have it erected opposite S. Lorenzo, on the piazza, and standing alone. Filippo had given such free rein to his art that Cosimo thought the building too sumptuous and grand, and more to escape envy than expense, he refrained from putting the work in hand. While he was at work on the model, Filippo would say that he thanked Fortune for giving him such a chance, for he had a house to build, a thing he had desired for many years, and it had fallen to his lot to make one which he was anxious and able to do. But learning afterwards Cosimo's resolve not to put that work in hand, he wrathfully broke the design into a thousand pieces. After his palace had been erected upon another plan, Cosimo repented that he had not followed Filippo's, and used to say that he had never spoken to a man of greater intelligence and wit than Filippo. The latter also made the model for the curious temple of the Angeli for the noble family of the Scolari, which was left incomplete as it is today, because the Florentines in their difficulties had spent the money upon some necessities of the city, or, as some say, in the war which supervened with the Lucchese, in which they also expended the money left by Niccolo da Uzzano to build the Sapienza, as is related at length in mother plan. If this temple of the Angeli had been finished according to the model of Brunellesco, it would have been one of the finest in Italy, since the part that may now be seen cannot be too highly praised. 14 The drawing by Filippo's hand for the ground plan and elevation of this octagonal church are in our book, with others of his designs. Filippo also planned a rich and magnificent palace for M. Luca Fitti outside the S. Niccolo gate at Florence in a place called Ruciano, but not at all like that which was begun by the same man in Florence, and carried as far as the second story, with such grandeur and magnificence that no finer piece of Tuscan work has yet been seen. The doors of this later palace are double, 26 braccia by 8, the windows of the first and second stories resembling the doors in every respect. The vaulting is double, and the entire edifice so artistic that nothing finer or more magnificent could possibly be desired. The one who carried out this work was Luca Fancelli, architect of Florence, who did many buildings for Filippo; and for Leon Battista Alberti he did the principal chapel of the Nunziata at Florence, for Ludovico Gonzaga, who took him to Mantua, where he did a goodly number of works, and there took a wife, and lived and died, leaving heirs who are still called the Luchi after him. The illustrious Lady Leonora di Toledo, Duchess of Florence, bought this palace not many years ago, by the advice of Duke Cosimo, her consort;' and enlarged it greatly, adding a large garden, which is partly on the flat, partly sloping, and partly hills, full of all manner of native and forest trees, with Pleasant thickets, all sorts of evergreen plants, not to speak of the water, the fountains, conduits; fish-Ponds, lime-trees, hedges, and other things proper to a magnificent prince, which I do not describe, because one who has not seen them cannot possibly imagine their grandeur and beauty. Indeed, Duke Cosimo could not possibly have undertaken anything more worthy of the power and greatness of his spirit than this palace, which really seems to have been built expressly for his Illustrious Excellency by M. Luca Pitti from Brunellesco's design. M. Luca was prevented from completing it because of his labours in matters of State, and his heirs having no means of completing it were glad to have this opportunity of pleasing the duchess, and saving it from going to ruin. While she lived she was always spending money upon it, but not so much that she could expect to see it speedily completed. If she had lived, indeed, she was disposed to spend 40,000 ducats upon it in a single year, as I have understood, in order that she might see it well advanced if not finished. Filippo's model being lost, her Excellency caused another to be made by Bartolommeo Ammannati, an excellent sculptor and architect, and the work was carried on in accordance with that, and a great part of the courtyard has been made of rustic work, like the exterior. Indeed, anyone who considers the greatness of this work will marvel that Filippo's mind should conceive such a building, which is not only magnificent in its exterior facade, but in the disposition of all the apartments. I pass over the view, which is very beautiful, and the amphitheatre formed by the pleasant hills descending to the walls of the palace, because, as I have said, it would take too long to describe them at length, and one who has not seen it cannot imagine how superior it is to any other royal edifice.
It is said that the apparatus of the Paradise of S. Felice in the piazza of that city was invented by Filippo for the representation or feast of the enunciation according to the time-honoured custom of the Florentines. This thing was truly marvellous, and displayed the ability and industry of the inventor. On high was a heaven full of living and moving figures, and a quantity of lights which flash in and out. I will take pains to describe exactly how the apparatus of this machine was devised, seeing that the machine itself is destroyed, and the men are dead who could have spoken of it from experience. There is no hope that it will be reconstructed, for the Camaldoline monks no longer inhabit the spot, but the nuns of St. Peter Martyr; and the roof of the Carmine suffered considerable injury from these celebrations. For this effect Filippo had arranged a half-globe between two rafters of the roof of the church, like a hollow porringer or a barber's basin turned upside down. It was formed of thin laths secured to an iron star which revolved round a great iron ring upon which it was poised. The whole machine was supported by a strong beam of pine well bound with iron, which was across the timbers of the roof. In this beam was fixed the ring which held the basin in suspense and balance, which from the ground resembled a veritable heaven. At the base, on the inside edge, were certain wooden brackets just large enough for one to stand on, and at the height of a braccia and also inside another iron. On each of the brackets was placed a child of about twelve, making in braccia with the iron, and so girt about that they could not fall even if they wanted to. These children, twelve in all, being arranged, as I have said, on pedestals and clad like angels with gilt wings and caps of gold lace, took one another's hands when the time came, and extending their arms they appeared to be dancing, especially as the basin was always turning and moving. Inside this and above the head of the angels were three circles or garlands of lights arranged with some tiny lanterns which could not turn over. These lights looked like stars from the ground, while the beams being covered with cotton resembled clouds. From the ring issued an immense iron bar furnished with another ring at the side, to which was attached a slender cord which fell to the ground, as we shall see. The bar had eight branches, and revolved in an arc filling the entire space inside the basin. At the end of each branch was a plate as large as a trencher, on which a boy of nine was placed, tied in with an iron fixed at the height of the branch, but so as to allow him to turn in every direction. These eight angels, by means of a crane, descended from the top of the basin to beneath the plane of the beams bearing the roof, a distance of eight braccia, so that they could be seen and did not interfere with the view of the angels surrounding the inside of the basin. Inside what we may truthfully call the nosegay of eight angels, there was a copper mandorla filled with small lights placed in many niches, and set upon an iron like cannon, which, upon touching a spring, were all hidden in the hollow of the copper mandorla, and when the spring was not pressed all the lights appeared through holes there. When the nosegay had reached its place, the mandorla was slowly lowered by another crane to the stage where the performance took place. Above this stage, exactly where the mandorla was to rest, was a high throne with four steps, with an opening, through which the abort of the mandorla tossed. A man was placed below the throne, and when the mandorla reached its station be secured it with a bolt. Inside the mandorla was a youth of about fifteen, representing an angel, surrounded by an iron and fixed in the mandorla so that he could not fall, and to permit him to kneel the iron was in three pieces, so that as he knelt one telescoped into the other. Thus, when the nosegay had descended and the mandorla rested oil the throne, the man who fastened the mandorla unfactened the iron which bore the angel, so that he came out, walked along the stage, and when he came to where the Virgin was saluted her, and made the Annunciation. Then he returned to the mandorla, and the lanterns; which had been extinguished when he stepped out, were relighted, and the iron which bore him was newly fastened by the unseen man beneath, whilst the angels of the nosegay sang, and those of the heaven turned about. It thus appeared a veritable Paradise, the more so as, in addition, a God the Father was placed beside the convex side of the basin, surrounded by angels similar to those above, and fastened with iron in such a manner that the heaven, the nosegay, the Deity, the mandorla, with the numerous lights and sweet music, represented Paradise most realistically. In addition to this, in order that the heaven might be opened or shut, Filippo added two large doors, five braccia high, one on either side, provided with iron or copper rollers manning in grooves, so arranged that by drawing a slender cord, the doors opened or closed at will, the two parts of the door coming together or slowly separating. These doors had two properties, one was that, being heavy, they made a noise like thunder, the other was that, when closed, they formed a scaffold for fixing the angels and arranging the other things needed inside. These ingenious things and many others were invented by Filippo, although some assert that they were introduced long before. However this may he, it is well to speak of them, because the use of them has completely gone out.
But to return to Filippo. His fame and name had increased to such an extent that all who wanted to erect buildings sent for him from great distances, to procure designs and models by the hand of such a great man, and for this they brought the most distinguished influences to bear. Among those who wanted him was the Marquis of Mantua, who wrote a very pressing letter to the Signoria of Florence. And so Filippo was sent thither by them, and designed the dykes to hold in the Po, in the year 1445, and some other things, in conformity with the prince's desire, who made much of him, saying that Florence was worthy to have a citizen like Filippo, just as he deserved to have so noble and beautiful a city for his home. Similarly in Pisa, where he convinced the Count Francesco Sforza and Niccolo da Pisa of his superiority, in certain fortifications; when they commended him in his presence, saying that if every state had a man like Filippo, it might feel secure without arms. In Florence Filippo designed the house of the Barbadori, next to the tower of the Rossi in the Borgo S. Jacopo, which was not carried out, and he also designed the house of the Giuntini on the piazza of Ognissanti on the Amo. After this, the captains of the Guelph party in Florence proposed to erect a building containing a hall and audience-chamber for that magistracy, and entrusted it to Francesco della Luna, who began the work. 15 He had already raised it to a height of ten braccia from the ground, and committed many mistakes, when the charge of it was given to Filippo, who brought that palace to its present shape and magnificence. In building it he had to compete with Francesco, who was favoured by many; indeed throughout his life Filippo was forced to contend first with one and then with another, a source of constant annoyance to him. Often they sought to win honour with his designs, so that finally he refused to show any- thing or trust anyone. The hall of this palace no longer serves for the captains of the party, because the flood of 1557 did such damage to the papers of the Monte that Duke Cosimo caused the magistracy to be brought there for greater safety, as the papers are of the highest importance. Thus the old hall of the palace serves for the magistracy of the captains, and being separated from the room which is used for the Moflte, and withdrawn to another part of the building, the convenient hall, which now leads into the hall of the Monte, was made by Giorgio Vasari by the commission of his Excellency. The same architect designed a square balcony, supported, according to the arrangement of Filippo, upon fluted pillars of macigno.
One Lent the preaching at S. Spirito at Florence was under- taken by M. Francesco Zoppo, then a favourite with the people, and he spoke eloquently in favour of the convent, the schools for young men, and especially for the church which had recently been burned. 16 The heads of the quarter, Lorenzo Ridolfl, Bartolommeo Corbinelli, Neri di Gino Capponi,Goro di Stagio Dati, and many other citizens, obtained permission from the Signoria to take steps for the rebuilding of the church, making Stoldo Frescobaldi the overseer. This man devoted the most severe labour to this work, owing to the interest which he had in the old church, the high-altar chapel of which belonged to his family. Thus, from the very beginning, before money had been raised by the rating of the tombs and of those who had chapels, he spent many thousand crowns out of his own pocket, for which he was recouped later. After they had deliberated upon the matter, Filippo was sent for and made a model comprising all the arrangements befitting a Christian church. He entirely reversed the plan of the church, as he was most anxious that the piazza should face the Arno, for it was there that all the people from Genoa, the Riviera, the Lunigiana, the Pisano and the Lucchese passed by, and they would see the magnificence of the structure. But as certain people were unwilling to allow their houses to be pulled down, Filippo's wish could not be carried out. Filippo then made the model of the church as well as of the friars' quarters in their present form. 17 The length of the church was 14 braccia, and its breadth 54 braccia, and it is so well arranged that no building could be richer, finer or more spacious in the disposition of its columns and other ornaments. Indeed, had it not been for the curse of those who, from lack of understanding more than anything else, spoil things beautifully begun, this would be the most perfect church in Christendom, as in some respects it is, being more beautiful and better divided than any other, although the model has not been followed, as is shown by some things begun outside which have not followed the dispositions of the interior for the doors and window decoration as shown in the model. It contains some rectors attributed to Filippo which I pass over, for I do not believe that he would have fallen into them if he had continued the building of that church, all his work being done with great judgment, discretion, genius and art, and everything brought to perfection. This work puts the stamp of the highest worth upon his genius.
Filippo was witty in his conversation and acute in repartee, as for instance in the case of Lorenzo Ghiberti, who had bought a property at Monte Morcllo called Lepriano, on which he spent twice as much as he derived from it, and finally sold it in disgust. On being asked what was the best thing Lorenzo had done, Filippo replied, "The sale of Lepriano," possibly thinking that he owed him this because of their unfriendly relations. At last, having reached the great age of sixty-nine, Filippo passed to in better life on 16th April, 1446, after a life of labour in producing those works which should earn him an honoured name on earth and a place of rest in heaven. His loss caused great grief to his country, which knew him and valued him much more after his death than during his life. He was buried with honourable obsequies in S. Maria del Fiore, although his family tomb was in S. Marco under the pulpit towards the door, containing a coat of arms with two fig leaves and some green waves on a gold ground, as his ancestors came from Fiearyolo, a place on the Po, in the territory of Ferrara, the leaves denoting the place and the waves the river. His artist friends also grieved, especially the poorer ones, whom he was always helping. He lived as a good Christian and left to the world the savour of his goodness and striking virtues. It may safely be said that from the time of the
ornament in the grotesque manner, the base varied and twisted and the pediment a quarter-circle, adding six infants bearing festoons, who seem to be afraid of the height, and to be reassuring themselves by embracing each other. But he showed especial genius and art in the figure of the Virgin, who, affrighted at the sudden appearance of the angel, moves her person timidly arid sweetly to a modest reverence, turning with beautiful grace to the one who salutes her, so that her face displays the proper humility and gratitude due to the bestower of the un- expected gift. Besides this, Donato showed a mastery in the arrangement of the folds of the drapery of the Madonna and of the angel, and by a study of the nude he endeavoured to discover the beauty of the ancients which had remained hidden for so many years. He gave evidence of so much facility and art in this work that design, judgment and skilled use of the chisel could produce nothing finer.
In the same church, below the screen, beside the scene painted by Taddeo Gaddi, he made a wooden crvcifix with extraordinary labour, when he had finished-it he thought it most remarkable, and showed it to Filippo di ser Brunellesco, his close friend, to have his opinion. From what Donato had said Filippo expected to see something much better than he actually did, and could not refrain from smiling. Donato perceived this and he adjured him by their friendship to give his opinion. Filippo then frankly replied that it seemed to him that he had put a rustic on the cross and not a body like Jesus Christ, who was most delicate in every member, and the most perfect man who was ever born. Donato thus hearing himself criticised so trenchantly when he had expected praise, retorted, "If it was as easy to do things as to pass judgment; my Christ would seem to you to be a Christ and not a rustic: but take some wood and try and make one yourself." Without another word Filippo returned to his house, no one being aware of what he was doing, and began to make a crucifix, endeavouring to surpass Donato in order not to condemn his own judgment. After many months he brought it to the utmost perfection. This done, he invited Donato one morning to dine with him, and Donato accepted the invitation. Accordingly he proceeded to Filippo's house in his host's company, and when they reached the Mercato Vecchio, Filippo bought some things and gave them to Donato, saying, "Take these things to the house and wait for me there, and I Mill come directly." When Donato entered the house and had arrived on the spot he saw Filippo's crucifix in a good light and stopped to examine it. He found it so perfectly finished that, overcome with amazement and almost beside himself, he opened his hands and his lapful of eggs, cheese and other things was spilt and broken. But he stood rapt in wonder and admiration icicle one demented. At this moment Filippo arrived, and said laughing, "What are you thinking about, Donato? What shall we dine upon seeing that you have upset everything?" "I have had enough this morning for my part," said Donato, "if you want yours take it. But enough, to you it is given to make Christs, to me rustics."
In the church of S. Giovanni in the same city Donato made the tomb of Pope Giovanni Costa, who had been deposed from the pontificate by the Council of Constance. 18 This work was a commission from Cosimo de' Medici, the close friend of Costa and in it Donato represented the dead man in gilt bronze, with Hope and Charity in marble, while his pupil Afichelozzo did the Faith. In the scene church, opposite this work, may be scene a St. Mary Magdalene in wood, a very beautiful penitential figure, 19 finely executed, as she is consumed by fasting and abstinence, so that her body exhibits a most perfect knowledge of anatomy in every part. In the Mercato Vecchio there is a stone figure of Plenty by Donato, placed upon a granite column by itself, which has been much admired by artists and all good judges for its excellent workmanship. The column upon which it stands was originally in S. Giovanni, among other granite columns supporting the inner cornice, which are still there. When it was taken away, another fluted column was put in its place, upon which the statue of Mars formerly stood in the middle of the church, being taken away when the Florentines were converted to the faith of Christ. The same artist, while still a youth, also made the prophet Daniel 2 in marble for the fade of S. Maria de1 Fiore, and a St. John the Evangelist seated, four braccia high, clothed in a simple habit, which has been much admired. 20 At the same place, on the angle facing the via del Cocomero, is an old man between two columns, more like the antique manner than any extant work of Donato, the head exhibiting that thoughtfulness which comes with years in those who are wasted by age and labour. For the interior of the same church he made the ornamentation of the organ over the door of the old sacristy, 21 the figures depicted on it seeming in truth to be endowed with life and motion. For this reason it may be said that Donato employed his judgment as much as his hands, seeing that he made many things which look beautiful in the places where they are situated; but when they have been removed, and put else- where in another light or higher up, their appearance is changed and they create an entirely different impression. Thus Donato made his figures in such fashion that in his studio they did not appear half so remarkable as when they were set up in the appointed places. In the new sacristy of the same church he designed the children who hold the festoons which turn about the frieze, and he also designed the figures for the round window beneath the cupola containing the Coronation of Our Lady. This design is clearly superior to those of the other round windows. At S. Michele in Orto in that city he made the statue of St. Peter for the art of the butchers, a suave and marvellous figure, and a St. Mark the Evangelist 22 for the art of the linen- drapers, which he had undertaken to do in conjunction with Filippo Brunelleschi, but afterwards finished by himself, an arrangement to which Filippo had consented. This figure was executed by Donatello with so much judgment that when it was on the ground its excellence was not recognised by unskilled persons, and the consuls of the art were not disposed to accept it; but Donato asked them to allow it to be set up, as after he had retouched it the figure would appear quite different. This was done, the figure was veiled for fifteen days, and then, without having done anything more to it, he uncovered it, and filled everyone with admiration.
For the art of the armourers he made a fine statue of St. George armed, 23 the head exhibiting the saint's youthful beauty, valour and spirit with extraordinary realism and life for a piece of stone. Certainly no modern figures in marble display so much force and realism as Nature and art have produced in this by means of Donato's hand. On the marble pedestals which bears the niche he carved in bas-relief the slaying of the serpent, including a horse, which has been highly valued and praised. On the pediment he made a God the Father in bas-relief. Opposite the church of the said oratory he made a marble tabernacle for the Mercatanzia in the Corinthian Order, distinct from the Gothic style, to receive two statues, which he did not make owing to disputes about the price. After his death Andrea del Verocchio made these two figures in bronze, as will be said. For the front of the campanile of S. Maria del Fiore he did four marble figures five braccia high, the two middle ones being portraits of Fran- cesco Soderini as a youth and Giovanni di Borduccio Cherichini, now known as La Zuccone. 24 This being considered a most rare work, and finer than anything else which he did, Donato used to say, when he wished to take an unusually solemn oath, "By the faith which I bear to my Zuccone"; and while he was at work on it he would look at it, and repeat, "Speak, plague take you, speak." On the side facing the Canonry, over the door of the campanile, he made an Abraham sacrificing Isaac and another prophet which were placed between two other statues. 25
For the Signoria of the city he made a metal cast which was placed in an arch of their loggia on the piazza, representing Judith cutting off the head of Holophernes, a work of great excellence and mastery, which displays to anyone who will consider the external simplicity of Judith in her dress and aspect the great spirit of that lady and the assistance of God, while the appearance of Holophernes exhibits the effects of wine and sleep, with death in his cold and drooping limbs. This work was so well carried out by Donato that the slender and beautiful cast excited the utmost admiration after he had polished it. The pedestal, which is a granite baluster of simple design, is full of grace and pleasing to the eye. He was so delighted with this work that he put his name on it, contrary to his usual custom, as we see by the words Donatein opus. In the courtyard of the palace of the Signoria there is a nude David of life-size, who has cut off Goliath's head arid places his raised foot upon it, while his right hand holds a sword. 26 This figure is so natural and possesses such beauty that it seems incredible to artists that it was not moulded upon a living body. This statue formerly stood in the courtyard of the Medici palace, and was carried to its present place on the exile of Cosimo. The Duke Cosimo has recently made a fountain on its former site and caused the statue to be removed, reserving it for another courtyard which he proposes to make at the back of the palace, where the lions were. On the left-hand of the hall containing 27 the clock of Lorenzo della Volpaia there is still a fine David in marble, with the head of Goliath under his foot, while in his hand he holds the sling with which he has slain him 28 In the first court of the Casa Medici there are eight marble medallions containing representations of antique cameos, the reverse of medals, and some scenes very beautifully executed by him, built into the frieze between the windows and the architrave above the arches of the loggia. He also restored a Marsyas in antique white marble, placed at the exit from the garden, and a large number of antique heads placed over the doors and arranged by him with ornaments of wings and diamonds, the device of Cosimo, finely worked in stucco. In granite he made a lovely basin which throws up water, and a similar one in the garden of the Pazzi at Florence which also spouts water. In the same palace of the Medici there are Madonnas in marble and bronze, in bas-relief, and some scenes in marble, with fine figures marvellously done in shadow relief. The esteem which Cosimo entertained for Donato's talent was such that he kept him constantly employed, and Donato had so much affection for Cosimo that from the slightest indication he divined all that he required and punctiliously obeyed him. It is said that a Genoese merchant once employed Donato to make a su fine bronze head of life-size and very light, so that it might be carried to a distance, and that the work was given to him through the intervention of Cosimo. When it was finished, and the merchant wished to pay for it, it seemed to him that Donato asked too much. The question was referred to Cosimo, who caused the head to be brought to the court of his palace, and placed among the pinnacles on the street front, that it might be the better seen. Cosimo then decided that the merchant's offer was inadequate, saying that the price asked was too small. The merchant, who thought it too high, said that Donato had completed it in a month or a little more, which came to more than half a florin a day. Donato turned round angrily, much incensed at the remark, and exclaiming to the merchant that in an instant he was able to destroy the work and toil of a year, gave the head a push into the street where it was broken into many pieces, saying that the merchant was accustomed to bargain for liar cot beans but not for statues. Then he repented, and offered Donato double if he would make another, but the sculptor refused, though Cosimo united his prayers to those of the merchant. In the houses of the Martelli there are many scenes in marble and bronze, among them a David, three braccia high, and many other things generously given by him as a sign of the service and love which he bore to such a family, and especially a marble St. John 29 in full relief, three braccia high; a most rare work, now in the house of the heirs of Ruberto Martelli, who made a bond that it should never be pledged, sold or given away, under severe penalties, as a testimony of the affection they bore to Donato in recognition of his worth, and of his gratitude to them for their protection and favours.
He also made a marble tomb for an archbishop, which was sent to Naples, and is placed in S. Angelo at Seggio di Nido. It contains three figures in full relief which bear the sarcophagus on their beads, and on the body of the sarcophagus there is a remarkably fine bas-relief which has been much admired. 30 In the house of the Count of Matalone in the same city there is a horse's head by Donatello, so fine that many believe it to be antique 31 In the town of Prato he made the marble pulpit where the girdle is shown. 32 The panels contain some dancing children so beautifully and marvellously carved that his mastery of his art may be said to be displayed in this as signally as in his other things. To support this work he made two bronze capitals, one of which is still there, the other having been carried off by the Spaniards when they ravaged the country. It happened at this time that the Signoria of Venice, hearing of Donatello's fame, sent for him to make a moniiment to Gattamelata in the city of Padua. 33 He went there very willingly and made the bronze horse which stands in the piazza of S. Antonio, displaying the chafing and foaming of the animal and the courage and pride of the figure who is riding him with great truth. He showed such skill in the size of the cast in its proportions and general excellence that it may be compared with any antique for movement, design, artistic qualities, proportion and diligence. Not only did it fill all the men of that day with amazement, but it astonishes every- one who sees it at the present time. For this cause the Paduans endeavoured by every means to make him a fellow-citizen and to detain him there by all manner of favours. To keep him employed they allotted to him the predella of the his altar of the church of the friars minors, to represent scenes in the life of St. Anthony of Padua. 34 These bas-reliefs are executed with such judgment that masters in the art have been struck dumb with admiration in beholding them when they have considered their beautiful and varied composition, comprising such a number of remarkable figures placed in diminishing perspective. For the front of the altar he made the Maries weeping over the dead Christ. In the house of one of the Counts of Capodilista he made the skeleton of a horse of wood without glue, which may still be seen, in which the joints are so well made that he who reflects upon the method of such work may form an opinion of the capacity of the brain and the greatness of the spirit of the author. For a nunnery he made a St. Sebastian of wood at the request of a chaplain, their friend and his familiar, who was a Florentine. The chaplain brought him a rude old one which they had, asking Donato to make one like it, but though he endeavoured to imitate it, in order to please the chaplain and the nuns, he could not succeed, and though the model was rude, his own work was of his accustomed exeellence an art. In conjunction with this he made many other figures of clay and stucco, and chiselled a very beautiful Madonna from the corner of a piece of old marble which the nuns had in their garden. An extraordinary number of his works may be met with all over Padua. But being considered as a miracle there and praised by every intelligent man, he determined to return to Florence, saying that if he remained longer at Padua he would have forgotten all that he ever knew, as he was so highly praised -by everyone, and he returned gladly to his native town because there he was always being blamed, and this blame induced him to study and was productive of more glory. Accordingly he left Padua and, returning to Venice, left there a St. John the Baptist in wood, as a gift for the Florentine nation, for their chapel in the friars minor, executed by him with the greatest diligence and care, as a memorial of his excellence. In the city of Faenza he carved a St. John and a St. Jerome in wood, 35 which were not less highly esteemed than his other works. Returning next to Tuscany, he made a marble tomb in the Pieve of Montepulciano with a very fine scene. 36 In the sacristy of S. Lorenzo in Florence he made a fine marble lavatory at which Andrea Vierocchio also worked, and in the house of Lorenzo della Stufa he made some very life-like heads and figures. Leaving Florence after this he went to Rome, to imitate and study the antique as much as possible. At that time he made a stone tabernacle of the Sacrament, which is now in S. Pietro. 37 Returning to Florence and passing through Siena, he undertook to make a bronze door for the baptistery of S. Giovanni. But when he had made a model in wood and had almost got the wax moulds ready for the casting, Bernardetto di Mona Papera, a Florentine goldsmith and his friend and familiar, arrived upon the scene, having come from Rome, and succeeded in carrying him off to Florence, whether for his own needs or for other reasons, and thus the work remained imperfect, as if it had never been begun. The only thing by his hand in that city is in the Opera of the Duomo, a St. John the Baptist in metal, the right arm of which is wanting from the elbow. 38 It is said that Donato did this because he did not receive full payment. On his return to Florence he did the sacristy of S. Lorenzoni, stucco for Cosim de Medlel, namely, four circles at the foot of the vaulting with stories of the Evangelists in, perspective, partly painted and partly bas-relief. He made No very beautiful little bronze doors in bas-relief, with the Apostles, martyrs and confessors, and above these some flat niches, one containing a St. Laurence and St. Stephen, and the other SS. Cosmo and Damian. 39 In the crossing of the church he did four saints in stucco of five braccia each, which are skillfully executed. He also desigued the bronze pulpits, 40 representing the Passion of Christ, which possess design, force, invention and an abundance of figures and buildings. As he could not work at then, himself on account of his age, his pupil, Bertoldo, completed them and put the finishing touches. At S. Maria del Fiore he made two colossal figures of bricks and stucco, which were placed outside the church on the sides of the chapels as an ornament. Over the door of S. Croce may be seen to this day a bronze St. Louis of five braccia, finished by him. 41 When he was blamed for making this clumsily, it being considered perhaps the worst thing he ever did, he replied that he had made it so of set purpose, as it was a foolisli trick to leave a kingdom to make oneself a friar. He also made in bronze the head of the wife of Cosimo de' Medici; which is preserved in the wardrobe of Duke Cosimo, where many other things of Donato in bronze and marble are preserved, among others a Madonna and Child in marble, in shadow relief, of matchless `beauty, especially as it is surrounded with scenes in miniature by Fra Bemardo, which are admirable, as I shall relate when the time comes. In bronze the duke has a most beautiful and wondrous crucifix by Donato's hand in his studio, which contains a number of rare antiquities and beautiful medals. In the same wardrobe is the Passion of Our Lord in relief in a bronze panel, with a large number of figures, and in another panel, also of metal, another crucifix. Also in the house of the heirs of Jacopo Capponi, who was a good citizen and worthy gentleman, there is a marble Madonna in half-relief considered a most rare work. M. Antonio de Nobili again, who was the duke had a marble panel by Donato's hand containing a half-figure of Our Lady in bas-relief, so beautiful that M. Antonio esteemed it equivalent to all his other possessions, and it is equally highly valued by his son Giulio, a youth of singular goodness and judgment, the friend of all men of genius. In the house of Gio Battista di Agnol Doni, a noble Florentine, there is a metal Mercury by Donato, braccia high, in full relief, and clothed in a curious fashion which is really very fine, 42 and not less rare than the other things which adorn his beautiful house. Rartolommeo Gondi, who is mentioned in the Life of Giotto, has a Madonna in half-relief made by Donato with incomparable love and diligence, but it must be seen in order to realise the light touch of the master in the poise of the head and arrangement of the draperies. M. Lelio Torelli again, the chief auditor and secretary of the duke, and not inferior as a lover of all the sciences and honourable employments than as an excellent juries consult, has a marble panel of Our Lady by Donatello's hand. And whoever desired to write in full of the life and works of this artist would have to make a longer story of it than is contemplated in the plan of this work, Donato put his hand not only to the great things, of which enough has been said, but also to the smallest things of his art; making coats-of-arms on the chimneypieces and fronts of houses of citizens, a very fine example of which may be seen on the house of the Sommai opposite the tower of the Vacca. For the family of the Martelli he made a chest in the form of a cradle, constructed of wicker-work, to serve as a tomb. But it is below the church of S. Lorenzo, as no tombs of any sort appear above except the epitaph of that of Cosimo de' Medici, which also has its opening beneath like the rest. It is said that Donato's brother, Simone, after making the model for the tomb of Pope Martin V., sent for Donato to see it before he cast it. Accordingly Donato went to Rome, and was there at the time when the Emperor Sigismund went to receive the crown from Pope Eugenius IV., 43 so that he was constrained to take part in pre- paring the festivities for this event in company with Simone, 44 whereby he acquired great fame and honour. In the wardrobe of Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino, there is a fine marble bust by the same hand, and it is supposed that it was given to the duke's ancestors by Giuliano de' Medici the Magnificent, when he was staying at that court, then full of many noble lords. In short Donato was so admirable in his every act that in skill, judgment and knowledge he may be said to have been among the first to illustrate the art of sculpture and the good design of the modems. He deserves the greater commendation, because in his day antiquities had not been dug out, such as columns, sarcophagi and triumphal arches. It was chiefly by his influence that Cosimo de' Medici conceived the desire to introduce to Florence the antiquities which are and were in the Casa Medici, all of which were restored by his hand. He was free, affectionate and courteous, and more so to his friends than to himself. He thought nothing of money, keeping it in a basket suspended by a rope from the ceiling, so that all his workmen and friends took what they wanted without saying anything to him. He passed his old age very happily, and when he could work no longer he was assisted by Cosimo and other friends. It is said that when Cosimo was on his death-bed he recommended Donato to his son Piero, who diligently executed his father's wish and gave the artist a property in Cafaggiuolo, which brought in sufficient income to permit him to live in comfort. At this Donato was greatly rejoiced, thinking himself more than assured against the fear of dying of hunger. But he had not possessed it a year before he returned to Piero and publicly renounced it, declaring that he would not give up his peace of mind to think of household affairs and the troubles of the country, which bothered him one day out of three, as either the wind blew down his dove-cote; or his beasts were seized by the commune for taxes, or a tempest destroyed his vine and fruits. He had had enough of this, and would rather die of hunger than be obliged to think of such things. Piero laughed at his simplicity, and to relieve him from this vexation took back the estate and assigned to Donato a tension of the same value or more in money to be drawn from the bank weekly. This gave him the utmost satisfaction, and as the servant and friend of the house of the Medici he lived happily and care-free all the rest of his days. Having attained the age of eighty-three, he became so paralytic that he could no longer do the slightest work, and remained in bed in a poor little house which he had in the via del Cocomero, near the nuns of S. Niccolo. Growing daily worse and gradually wasting away, he died on 23rd December, 1466, and was buried in the church of S. Lorenzo, near the tomb of Cosimo, as the latter had himself ordained, so that the dead body should be near him in death, as they had always been near in spirit when alive.
The citizens sorrowed greatly at his death, as well as the artists and all who knew him. Thus, in order to honour him more in death than they had done when he was alive, they gave him a stately funeral in that church, all the painters, architects, sculptors, goldsmiths, and indeed practically the whole population of the city, accompanying the chortle, while they used for a long time afterwards to compose in his praise various verses in divers languages, of which I will content myself with quoting those given below.
But before I come to the epitaphs, I have another matter to relate of him. When he was sick, shortly before his death, Some of his relations went to see him, and after they had greeted him and offered their condolences, as was customary, they told him it was his duty to leave them an estate which he had at Prato, although it was a small one and brought in but little, and they earnestly besought him to do this. Donato listened patiently and then said, for he was just in everything, I cannot gratify you, for I think it only right to leave it to the peasant who has always toiled there, and not to you who have never done any good to it or had any other thought than to possess it, which is the sole object of this visit. Go in peace." And in truth such relations, who only love their kin for the hopes which they have from them, ought to be treated after this fashion. Donato accordingly sent for the notary and left the estate to the peasant who had always worked there, and who had probably conducted himself better towards his master in his need than the relations had done. His artistic properties Donato left to his pupils, who were Bertoldo, a sculptor of Florence, who imitated him rather closely, as may be seen in a fine bronze fight between men on horseback, which is now in the wardrobe of Duke Cosimo; Nanni d' Anton di Banco, who died before him; in Rossellino; Disiderio and Vellano di Padoa, and indeed it may be said that everyone who wished to excel in relief after his death was his pupil. In design he was resolute, and made his drawings so skillfully and boldly that they have no equal, as our book shows. I have here both nude and draped figures by his hand, animals which excite the liveliest admiration, and other equally beautiful things. His portrait was made by Paolo Ucello, as related in the life of that artist. The epitaphs are these:
Sculptura H. M. a Florentinis fleri voluit Donatello utpote homini qui ei quod jarndiu opfimis artificibus, multique saeculis, turn nobilitatis turn nominis acquisitum fuerat, inj unave tcmpor. perdidcrat ipsa, ipse unus una vita infinitisquc operibiis cumulatiss restituerit, et patriae benemerenti hujus restitutae virtutis palmam reportarit.
Excuclit nemo spirantia rnollius asra: Vera cano: cernes rnarmora viva loqui, Graecorum sileat prisca adnurahilis aetas Compedibus statuas continuisse Rhodon. Nectere namque magis fucrant haec vincula cligna I.qtius cgregias artifieis statuas.
Quanto con dotta mano alia sculptura Cia fecer rnolti, or sol Donato ha fatto: Renduto ha vita a' marrni, affetto, ed atto: Che piu, Sc non parlar, puo dar ziatura? The world is so full of Donato's works that it may be truthfully affirmed that no artist ever produced more than he. He took delight in everything, and undertook all kinds of work without looking whether it was common or pretentious. However, this productiveness was very necessary to sculpture in some kinds of round figures, half-and bas-reliefs, because, just as in the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans, many combined to attain perfection, so he, single-handed, brought perfection and delight back to our age by the multitude of his works. Thus artists ought to recognise the greatness of his art more than that of any modern, for him, besides rendering the difficulties of art easy by the number of his works, united in himself that invention design, skill, judgment, and every other faculty that can or ought to be expected in a man of genius. Donato was very determined and quick, completing his things with the utmost facility, always performing much more than he promised. All his work was left to his pupil Bertoldo, principally the bronze pulpits of S. Lorenzo, which were polished by him and brought to their present state of completion.
I must not omit to mention that the learned and very reverend Don Vincenzio Borghini, of whom I have spoken above in another connection, having collected in a large book an immense number of designs by prominent painters and sculptors, both ancient and modern, has introduced, with much judgment, into the ornamental border of two sheets opposite each other, containing drawings by Donato and Michelagnolo Buonarotti, the following Greek phrases: to Donato,
"Awvao9, Bovap'pwr(and to Michelagnolo, Bovappwrog "dwyaTh which in Latin run, "Aut Donatus Bonarottum exprimit et refert, aut Bonarottus Donatum," and in our tongue, "The spirit of Donato animates Ruonarotto, or else that of Buonarotto first animated Donato." 1 In 1400.2 About 1410.3 Brunelleschi's is now in the Bargello, Florence; the whereabouts of Donato's is unknown.4 A combat between Centaurs and Lapiths, now in the Duomo.5 A practical joke to induce the victim to doubt his own identity. 6 Rectius 1425.7 Begun 1429.8 Now Quaratesi, via Proconsolo, begun 1445.9 Begun 1420.10 Begun 1439.11 The building was not finished until 1466. Some consider it to be work of Leozi Battista Alberti.12 In 1419.13 In 1429.14 In 1549.15 In 1418 in the via delle Terme.16 In 1417.17 The church was begun about 1436.18 Baldassare Coscia, who had been Pope John XXIII. He died 1419. His tomb was begun in 1425.19 Now inside, paid for in 1412. The figure represents Joshua.20 Done in 1408. 21 Commissioned 1433, finished 1440. Now in the Opera del Duomo.22 These two Apostles were done in 1412.23 Done about 1415. Removed to the Bargello in 1886. 24 On the west front. The figures are John the Baptist, Jonas (the Zuccone), Jeremias; the fourth, Abdias, is by Rosso.25 Done in conjunction with Giovanni di Bartolo, called in Rosso, in 1421.26 Done about 1440; set up in the Palazzo Vecchio in 1495.27 Verocchio's Boy with the Dolphin.28 This is probably the David now in the Bargello.29 i.e. St. John the Baptist, still in the Casa Martelli.30 The tomb was that of Cardinal Brancacci, who died in 1427. The figures represent the Assumption of the Virgin. The work was done in conjuction with Michelozzo.31 Now in the National Museum, Naples. Goethe took it for an antique when visiting the city.32 Done 1434-8.33 Erasmus de' Narni, a famous condottiere, who died at Venice in 1443. The monument was cast in 1447 and unveiled in 1453. Donatello received 1650 gold ducats.34 The altar was completed in 1450.35 This latter figure is now in the Museo Civico. Professor Venturi considers it unworthy of Donatello.36 To Bartolommeo Agazzi, secretary to Pope Martin V. The work was allotted jointly to Donatello and Michelozzo in 1427 and completed in 1429. Portions remain in the Duomo at Montepulciano and two angels from it are in South Kensington Museum.37 Rediscovered in 1886 and placed in the Sacristy Chapel of the Beneficiati, S. Pietro.38 This was done in 1457. There are other works of Donatello's at Siena. These are a panel on the Baptistery font of the head of St. John delivered to Herod, done in 1425, but not delivered until 1457; five statuettes for the font, and a slab for the tomb of Bishop Pecci in the Duomo, who died 1426, delivered in 1427.39 In 1440.40 In 1461.41 Done for Orsanmichele in 1425; moved to the facade of S. Croce in 1463, and to the interior in 1860.42 It represents Cupido Alys; now in the Bargello.43 He was crowned 31 May, 1433.44 Not Donatello's brother. It has been conjectured that it was Simone di Giovanni Ghini, though Professor Venturi considers this unlikely.