Friar of the Piombo and Painter

PAINTING was not, as many affirm, the first profession of Sebastiano, but music, as besides singing he delighted in playing various instruments and especially the lute, on which he could render all the parts without accompaniment. It was an exercise of which the Venetian nobles were very fond, and he always enjoyed intimate relations with them. While still young he turned to painting, learning the elements from Giovan. Bellini, then an old man. Then Giorgione da Castlefranco introduced a more modern style, more harmonious and the colours better toned, so that Sebastiano left Giovanni and joined Giorgione, whose style he in great part acquired. He did many good portraits in Venice, among others that of Verdelotto, an excellent French musician then chapel-master in S. Marco, and in the same picture Uberto, his fellow-singer. Verdelotto took‚ this picture to Florence, where he became chapel-master in S. Giovanni, and it is now in the house of Francesco Sangallo, the sculptor. At that time Sebastiano 1 did a panel with some figures in S. Giovanni Grisostomo at Venice, so like Giorgione's work that many people not experts, have been deceived. It is a fine picture, the colouring giving it great relief. Sebastiano's fame spreading, Agostino Chigi, a wealthy Sienese merchant, having affairs at Venice and hearing him greatly praised in Rome, tried to induce him to go thither, being pleased also with his lute-playing and pleasant conversation. The task was not a hard one, for Sebastiano knew that city to be the home of all lofty spirits. When Sebastiano arrived there 2 Agostino gave him work, the first thing being the arches of the loggia in the palace of Agostino in Travestevere, 3 opening on the garden where Baldassare of Siena had painted the vaulting. Here Sebastiano did some poetical fancies in a style he had brought from Venice, very unlike that in use among the prominent painters then at Rome.

After this, Raphael having done a scene of Galatea there, Sebastiano at Agostino's request, painted Polyphemus beside it, doing his utmost, spurred by the competition of Baldassare of Siena and of Raphael. He then painted some things in oils much valued in Rome for the method of colouring he had learned from Giorgione. While he was at work at Rome, Raphael had become so famous that his friends said his paintings were superior to those of Michelagnolo for beauty of colour, excellence in design and grace, and they judged Raphael superior or at least equal to him in painting, but absolutely superior in colouring. These things, being spread abroad by many artists who thought more of Raphael's grace than of Michelagnolo's profundity, had made many more favourable to the former than the latter. Sebastiano, however, was not among these, as his exquisite judgment showed him the precise worth of each. Michelagnolo therefore turned to him, being attracted by his colouring and grace, and took him under his protection, thinking that if he gave his assistance to Sebastian in design he might succeed in confounding his rivals under cover of a third person; While matters were in this state and some things of Sebastiano being greatly appreciated by the praises bestowed by Michelagnolo, besides being beautiful and admirable of themselves, some one from Viterbo, in high favour with the Pope, employed Sebastiano to decorate a chapel for him in S. Francesco at Viterbo, with a dead Christ lamented hy HisMother. 4 This was diligently completed by Sebastiano who introduced a much-admired shaded landscape, but the invention and cartoon were Michelagnolo's. The work was considered most beautiful by all who saw it, and Sebastiano acquired great credit and confirmed the reports of those who favoured him. Piero Francesco Borgherini, a Florentine merchant, having taken a chapel in S. Pietro a Montorio on the right on entering the church, it was allotted to Sebastiano by Michelagnolo's influence, because Piero thought Michelagnolo would prepare the design, as edict. Sebastiano executed it with such diligence that it was rightly considered very beautiful. From Michelagnolo's small design he made some larger ones for his own use, a particularly good one being in our book. Sebastiano thought he had discovered a method of colouring in oils on a wall, and so he prepared the surface of the walls of

The same wardrobe contains a fine portrait of Signora Anguisciola by herself, presented by her to Julius II., and an ancient M S. of the Bucolics, Georgics and neid of Virgil, the characters of which have led many learned men to believe that it was written actually under Caesar Augustus or soon after, so that it is small wonder if the cardinal treasures it greatly. This is the end of the Life of Taddeo Zucchero the painter.

  • 1 Sebastiano Luciani.
  • 2 About1512.
  • 3 The Farnesina.
  • 4 In 1525.

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