Renaissance in Italy Vol. 3
John Addington Symonds

Part 2 out of 7

and abstract when compared with the more genial audacities of the earlier
Renaissance, we must remember how salutary was the example of a rigorous
and modest manner in an age which required above all things to be
preserved from its own luxuriant waywardness of fancy. It is hard to say
how much of the work ascribed to Bramante in Northern Italy is genuine;
most of it, at any rate, belongs to the manner of his youth. The Church of
S. Maria della Consolazione at Todi, the palace of the Cancelleria at
Rome, and the unfinished cathedral of Pavia, enable us to comprehend the
general character of this great architect's refined and noble manner. S.
Peter's, it may be said in passing, retains, in spite of all subsequent
modifications, many essentially Bramantesque features--especially in the
distribution of the piers and rounded niches.

Bramante formed no school strictly so called, though his pupils,
Cristoforo Rocchi and Ventura Vitoni, carried out his principles of
building at Pavia and Pistoja. Vitoni's church of the Umilta in the latter
city is a pure example of conscientious neo-Roman architecture. It
consists of a large octagon surmounted by a dome and preceded by a lofty
vaulted atrium or vestibule. The single round arch of this vestibule
repeats the _testudo_ of a Roman bath, and the decorative details are
accurately reproduced from similar monuments. Unfortunately, Giorgio
Vasari, who was employed to finish the cupola, spoiled its effect by
raising it upon an ugly attic; it is probable that the church, as designed
by Vitoni, would have presented the appearance of a miniature Pantheon. At
Rome the influence of Bramante was propagated through Raphael, Giulio
Romano, and Baldassare Peruzzi. Raphael's claim to consideration as an
architect rests upon the Palazzi Vidoni and Pandolfini, the Cappella Chigi
in S. Maria del Popolo, and the Villa Madama. The last-named building,
executed by Giulio Romano after Raphael's design, is carried out in a
style so forcible as to make us fancy that the pupil had a larger share in
its creation than his teacher. These works, however, sink into
insignificance before the Palazzo del Te at Mantua, the masterpiece of
Giulio's genius. This most noble of Italian pleasure-houses remains to
show what the imagination of a poet-artist could recover from the
splendour of old Rome and adapt to the use of his own age. The vaults of
the Thermae of Titus, with their cameos of stucco and frescoed arabesques,
are here repeated on a scale and with an exuberance of invention that
surpass the model. Open loggie yield fair prospect over what were once
trim gardens; spacious halls, adorned with frescoes in the vehement and
gorgeous style of the Roman school, form a fit theatre for the grand
parade-life of an Italian prince. The whole is Pagan in its pride and
sensuality, its prodigality of strength and insolence of freedom. Having
seen this palace, we do not wonder that the fame of Giulio flew across the
Alps and lived upon the lips of Shakspere: for in his master-work at
Mantua he collected, as it were, and epitomised in one building all that
enthralled the fancy of the Northern nations when they thought of Italy.

A pendant to the Palazzo del Te is the Villa Farnesina, raised on the
banks of the Tiber by Baldassare Peruzzi for his fellow townsman Agostino
Chigi of Siena. It is an idyll placed beside a lyric ode, gentler and
quieter in style, yet full of grace, breathing the large and liberal
spirit of enjoyment that characterised the age of Leo. The frescoes of
Galatea and Psyche, executed by Raphael and his pupils, have made this
villa famous in the annals of Italian painting. The memory of the Roman
banker's splendid style of living marks it out as no less noteworthy in
the history of Renaissance manners.[44]

Among the great edifices of this second period we may reckon Jacopo
Sansovino's buildings at Venice, though they approximate rather to the
style of the earlier Renaissance in all that concerns exuberance of
decorative detail. The Venetians, somewhat behind the rest of Italy in the
development of the fine arts, were at the height of prosperity and wealth
during the middle period of the Renaissance; and no city is more rich in
monuments of the florid style. Something of their own delight in sensuous
magnificence they communicated even to the foreigners who dwelt among
them. The court of the Ducal Palace, the Scuola di S. Rocco, the Palazzo
Corner, and the Palazzo Vendramini-Calergi, illustrate the, strong yet
fanciful _bravura_ style that pleased the aristocracy of Venice. Nowhere
else does the architecture of the Middle Ages melt by more imperceptible
degrees into that of the Revival, retaining through all changes the
impress of a people splendour-loving in the highest sense. The Library of
S. Mark, built by Sansovino in 1536, remains, however, the crowning
triumph of Venetian art. It is impossible to contemplate its noble double
row of open arches without feeling the eloquence of rhetoric so brilliant,
without echoing the judgment of Palladio, that nothing more sumptuous or
beautiful had been invented since the age of ancient Rome.

Time would fail to tell of all the architects who crowd the first half of
the sixteenth century--of Antonio di San Gallo, famous for fortifications;
of Baccio d'Agnolo, who raised the Campanile of S. Spirito at Florence; of
Giovanni Maria Falconetto, to whose genius Padua owed so many princely
edifices; of Michele Sanmicheli, the military architect of Verona, and the
builder of five mighty palaces for the nobles of his native city. Yet the
greatest name of all this period cannot be omitted: Michael Angelo must be
added to the list of builders in the golden age. In architecture, as in
sculpture, he not only bequeathed to posterity masterpieces of individual
energy and original invention, in their kind unrivalled; but he also
prepared for his successors a false way of working, and justified by his
example the extravagances of the decadence. Without noticing the facade
designed for S. Lorenzo at Florence, the transformation of the Baths of
Diocletian into a church, the remodelling of the Capitoline buildings, and
the continuation of the Palazzo Farnese--works that either exist only in
drawings or have been confused by later alterations--it is enough here to
mention the Sagrestia Nuova of S. Lorenzo and the cupola of S. Peter's.
The sacristy may be looked on either as the masterpiece of a sculptor who
required fit setting for his statues, or of an architect who designed
statues to enhance the structure he had planned. Both arts are used with
equal ease, nor has the genius of Michael Angelo dealt more masterfully
with the human frame than with the forms of Roman architecture in this
chapel. He seems to have paid no heed to classic precedent, and to have
taken no pains to adapt the parts to the structural purpose of the
building. It was enough for him to create a wholly novel framework for the
modern miracle of sculpture it enshrines, attending to such rules of
composition as determine light and shade, and seeking by the slightness of
mouldings and pilasters to enhance the terrible and massive forms that
brood above the Medicean tombs. The result is a product of picturesque and
plastic art, as true to the Michaelangelesque spirit as the Temple of the
Wingless Victory to that of Pheidias. But where Michael Angelo achieved a
triumph of boldness, lesser natures were betrayed into bizarrerie; and
this chapel of the Medici, in spite of its grandiose simplicity, proved a
stumbling-block to subsequent architects by encouraging them to despise
propriety and violate the laws of structure. The same may be said with
even greater truth of the Laurentian Library and its staircase. The false
windows, repeated pillars, and barefaced aiming at effect, that mark the
insincerity of the _barocco_ style, are found here almost for the first

What S. Peter's would have been, if Michael Angelo had lived to finish it,
can be imagined from his plans and elevations still preserved. It must
always remain a matter of profound regret that his project was so far
altered as to sacrifice the effect of the dome from the piazza. This dome
is Michael Angelo's supreme achievement as an architect. It not only
preserves all that is majestic in the cupola of Brunelleschi; but it also
avoids the defects of its avowed model, by securing the entrance of
abundant light, and dilating the imagination with the sense of space to
soar and float in. It is the dome that makes S. Peter's what it is--the
adequate symbol of the Church in an age that had abandoned mediaevalism and
produced a new type of civility for the modern nations. On the connection
between the building of S. Peter's and the Reformation I have touched
already.[45] This mighty temple is the shrine of Catholicity, no longer
cosmopolitan by right of spiritual empire, but secularised and limited to
Latin races. At the same time it represents the spirit of a period when
the Popes still led the world as intellectual chiefs. As the decree for
its erection was the last act of the Papacy before the schism of the North
had driven it into blind conflict with advancing culture, so S. Peter's
remains the monument to after ages of a moment when the Roman Church,
unterrified as yet by German rebels, dared to share the mundane impulse of
the classical revival. She had forgotten the catacombs and ruthlessly
destroyed the Basilica of Constantine. By rebuilding the mother church of
Western Christianity upon a new plan, she broke with tradition; and if
Rome has not ceased to be the Eternal City, if all ways are still leading
to Rome, we may even hazard a conjecture that in the last days of their
universal monarchy the Popes reared this fane to be the temple of a spirit
alien to their own. It is at any rate certain that S. Peter's produces an
impression less ecclesiastical, and less strictly Christian, than almost
any of the elder and far humbler churches of Europe. Raised by proud and
secular pontiffs in the heyday of renascent humanism, it seems to wait the
time when the high priests of a religion no longer hostile to science or
antagonistic to the inevitable force of progress will chaunt their hymns
beneath its spacious dome.

The building of S. Peter's was so momentous in modern history, and so
decisive for Italian architecture, that it may be permitted me to describe
the vicissitudes through which the structure passed before reaching
completion. Nicholas V., founder of the secular papacy and chief patron of
the humanistic movement in Rome, had approved a scheme for thoroughly
rebuilding and refortifying the pontifical city.[46] Part of this plan
involved the reconstruction of S. Peter's. The old basilica was to be
removed, and on its site was to rise a mighty church, shaped like a Latin
cross, with a central dome and two high towers flanking the vestibule.
Nicholas died before his project could be carried into effect. Beyond
destroying the old temple of Probus and marking out foundations for the
tribune of the new church, nothing had been accomplished;[47] nor did his
successors until the reign of Julius think of continuing what he had
begun. In 1506, on the 18th of April, Julius laid the first stone of S.
Peter's according to the plans provided by Bramante. The basilica was
designed in the shape of a Greek cross, surmounted by a colossal dome, and
approached by a vestibule fronted with six columns. As in all the works of
Bramante, simplicity and dignity distinguished this first scheme.[48] For
eight years, until his death in 1514, Bramante laboured on the building.
Julius, the most impatient of masters, urged him to work rapidly. In
consequence of this haste, the substructures of the new church proved
insecure, and the huge piers raised to support the cupola were imperfect,
while the venerable monuments contained in the old church were ruthlessly
destroyed.[49] After Bramante's death Giuliano di S. Gallo, Fra Giocondo,
and Raphael successively superintended the construction, each for a short
period. Raphael, under Leo X., was appointed sole architect, and went so
far as to alter the design of Bramante by substituting the Latin for the
Greek cross. Upon his death, Baldassare Peruzzi continued the work, and
supplied a series of new designs, restoring the ground-plan of the church
to its original shape. He was succeeded in the reign of Paul III. by
Antonio di S. Gallo, who once more reverted to the Latin cross, and
proposed a novel form of cupola with flanking towers for the facade, of
bizarre rather than beautiful proportions. After a short interregnum,
during which Giulio Romano superintended the building and did nothing
remarkable, Michael Angelo was called in 1535 to undertake the sole charge
of the edifice. He declared that wherever subsequent architects had
departed from Bramante's project, they had erred. "It is impossible to
deny that Bramante was as great in architecture as any man has been since
the days of the ancients. When he first laid the plan of S. Peter's, he
made it not a mass of confusion, but clear and simple, well lighted, and
so thoroughly detached that it in no way interfered with any portion of
the palace."[50] Having thus pronounced himself in general for Bramante's
scheme, Michael Angelo proceeded to develop it in accordance with his own
canons of taste. He retained the Greek cross; but the dome, as he
conceived it, and the details designed for each section of the building,
differed essentially from what the earlier master would have sanctioned.
Not the placid and pure taste of Bramante, but the masterful and fiery
genius of Buonarroti, is responsible for the colossal scale of the
subordinate parts and variously broken lineaments of the existing church.
In spite of all changes of direction, the fabric of S. Peter's had been
steadily advancing. Michael Angelo was, therefore, able to raise the
central structure as far as the drum of the cupola before his death. His
plans and models were carefully preserved, and a special papal ordinance
decreed that henceforth there should be no deviation from the scheme he
had laid down. Unhappily this rule was not observed. Under Pius V.,
Vignola and Piero Ligorio did indeed continue his tradition; under Gregory
XIII., Sixtus V., and Clement VIII., Giacomo della Porta made no
substantial alterations; and in 1590 Domenico Fontana finished the dome.
But during the pontificate of Paul V., Carlo Maderno resumed the form of
the Latin cross, and completed the nave and vestibule, as they now stand,
upon this altered plan (1614). The consequence is what has been already
noted--at a moderate distance from the church the dome is lost to view; it
only takes its true position of predominance when seen from far. In the
year 1626, S. Peter's was consecrated by Urban VIII., and the mighty work
was finished. It remained for Bernini to add the colonnades of the piazza,
no less picturesque in their effect than admirably fitted for the
pageantry of world-important ceremonial. At the end of the eighteenth
century it was reckoned that the church had cost but little less than
fifty million scudi.

Michael Angelo forms the link between the second and third periods of the
Renaissance. Among the architects of the latter age we have to reckon
those who based their practice upon minute study of antique writers, and
who, more than any of their predecessors, realised the long-sought
restitution of the classic style according to precise scholastic
canons.[51] A new age had now begun for Italy. The glory and the grace of
the Renaissance, its blooming time of beauty, and its springtide of young
strength, were over. Strangers held the reins of power, and the
Reformation had begun to make itself felt in the Northern provinces of
Christendom. A colder and more formal spirit everywhere prevailed. The
sources of invention in the art of painting were dried up. Scholarship had
pined away into pedantic purism. Correct taste was coming to be prized
more highly than originality of genius in literature. Nor did architecture
fail to manifest the operation of this change. The greatest builder of the
period was Andrea Palladio of Vicenza, who combined a more complete
analytical knowledge of antiquity with a firmer adherence to rule and
precedent than even the most imitative of his forerunners. It is useless
to seek for decorative fancy, wealth of detail, or sallies of inventive
genius in the Palladian style. All is cold and calculated in the many
palaces and churches of this master which adorn both Venice and Vicenza;
they make us feel that creative inspiration has been superseded by the
labour of the calculating reason. One great public building of Palladio's,
however--the Palazzo della Ragione at Vicenza--may be cited as, perhaps,
the culminating point of pure Renaissance architecture. In its simple and
heroical arcades, its solid columns, and noble open spaces, the strength
of Rome is realised to the eyes of those who do not penetrate too far
inside the building.[52] Here, and here only, the architectural problem of
the epoch--how to bring the art of the ancients back to life and use
again--was solved according to the spirit and the letter of the past.
Palladio never equalled this, the earliest of all his many works.

In the first half of the sixteenth century the dictatorship of art had
been already transferred from Florence and Rome to Lombardy.[53] The
painters who carried on the great traditions were Venetian. Among the
architects, Palladio was a native of Vicenza; Giacomo Barozzi, the author
of the "Treatise on the Orders," took the name by which he is known from
his birthplace, Vignola; Vincenzo Scamozzi was a fellow-townsman of
Palladio; Galeazzo Alessi, though born at Perugia, spent his life and
developed his talents in Genoa; Andrea Formigine, the palace-builder, was
a Bolognese; Bartolommeo Ammanati alone at Florence exercised the arts of
sculpture and architecture in their old conjunction. Vignola, Palladio's
elder by a few years, displays in his work even more of the scholastically
frigid spirit of the late Renaissance, the narrowing of poetic impulse,
and the dwindling of vitality, that sadden the second half of the
sixteenth century in Italy. Scamozzi, labouring at Venice on works that
Sansovino left unfinished, caught the genial spirit of the old Venetian
style. Alessi, in like manner, at Genoa, felt the influences of a rich and
splendour-loving aristocracy. His church of S. Maria di Carignano is one
of the most successful ecclesiastical buildings of the late Renaissance,
combining the principles of Bramante and Michael Angelo in close imitation
of S. Peter's, and adhering in detail to the canons of the new taste.

These canons were based upon a close study of Vitruvius. Palladio,
Vignola, and Scamozzi were no less ambitious as authors than as
architects;[54] their minute analysis of antique treatises on the art of
construction led to the formation of exact rules for the treatment of the
five classic orders, the proportions of the chief parts used in building,
and the correct method of designing theatres and palaces, church-fronts
and cupolas. Thus architecture in its third Renaissance period passed into

The masters of this age, chiefly through the weight of their authority as
writers, exercised a wider European influence than any of their
predecessors. We English, for example, have given Palladio's name to the
Italian style adopted by us in the seventeenth century. This selection of
one man to represent an epoch was due partly no doubt to the prestige of
Palladio's great buildings in the South, but more, I think, to the
facility with which his principles could be assimilated. Depending but
little for effect upon the arts of decoration, his style was easily
imitated in countries where painting and sculpture were unknown, and where
a genius like Jean Goujon, the Sansovino of the French, has never been
developed. To have rivalled the facade of the Certosa would have been
impossible in London. Yet here Wren produced a cathedral worthy of
comparison with the proudest of the late Italian edifices. Moreover, the
principles of taste that governed Europe in the seventeenth century were
such as found fitter architectural expression in this style than in the
more genial and capricious manner of the earlier periods.

After reviewing the rise and development of Renaissance architecture, it
is almost irresistible to compare the process whereby the builders of this
age learned to use dead forms for the expression of their thoughts, with
the similar process by which the scholars accustomed themselves to Latin
metres and the cadences of Ciceronian periods.[55] The object in each case
was the same--to be as true to the antique as possible, and without
actually sacrificing the independence of the modern mind, to impose upon
it the limitations of a bygone civilisation. At first the enthusiasm for
antiquity inspired architects and scholars alike with a desire to imitate
_per saltum_, and many works of fervid sympathy and pure artistic
intuition were produced. In course of time the laws both of language and
construction were more accurately studied; invention was superseded by
pedantry; after Poliziano and Alberti came Bembo and Palladio. In
proportion as architects learned more about Vitruvius, and scholars
narrowed their taste to Virgil, the style of both became more cramped and
formal. It ceased at last to be possible to express modern ideas freely in
the correct Latinity required by cultivated ears, while no room for
originality, no scope for poetry of invention, remained in the elaborated
method of the architects. Neo-Latin literature dwindled away to nothing,
and Palladio was followed by the violent reactionaries of the _barocco_

In one all-important respect this parallel breaks down. While the labours
of the Latinists subserved the simple process of instruction, by purifying
literary taste and familiarising the modern mind with the masterpieces of
the classic authors, the architects created a new common style for Europe.
With all its defects, it is not likely that the neo-Roman architecture, so
profoundly studied by the Italians, and so anxiously refined by their
chief masters, will ever wholly cease to be employed. In all cases where a
grand and massive edifice, no less suited to purposes of practical
utility than imposing by its splendour, is required, this style of
building will be found the best. Changes of taste and fashion, local
circumstances, and the personal proclivities of modern architects may
determine the choice of one type rather than another among the numerous
examples furnished by Italian masters. But it is not possible that either
Greek or Gothic should permanently take the place assigned to neo-Roman
architecture in the public buildings of European capitals.


[10] The question of the genesis of the Lombard style is one of the most
difficult in Italian art-history. I would not willingly be understood to
speak of Lombard architecture in any sense different from that in which
it is usual to speak of Norman. To suppose that either the Lombards or
the Normans had a style of their own, prior to their occupation of
districts from the monuments of which they learned rudely to use the
decayed Roman manner, would be incorrect. Yet it seems impossible to deny
that both Normans and Lombards in adapting antecedent models added
something of their own, specific to themselves as Northerners. The
Lombard, like the Norman or the Rhenish Romanesque, is the first stage in
the progressive mediaeval architecture of its own district.

[11] I use the term Lombard architecture here, as defined above (p. 31,
note), for the style of building prevalent in Italy during the Lombard
occupation, or just after.

[12] The essential difference between Italy and either Northern France or
England, was that in Italy there existed monuments of Roman greatness,
which could never be forgotten by her architects. They always worked with
at least half of their attention turned to the past: nor had they the
exhilarating sense of free, spontaneous, and progressive invention. This
point has been well worked out by Mr. Street in the last chapter of his
hook on the _Architecture of North Italy_.

[13] Even though it be now proved that not Heinrich von Gmunden, but
Marco Frisone da Campione, not a German, but a Milanese, was the first
architect, this is none the less true about its style.

[14] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 153.

[15] Pavia, it may be mentioned, has still many towers standing, and the
two at Bologna are famous.

[16] Arnolfo was born in 1232 at Colle, in the Val d'Elsa. He was a
sculptor as well as architect, the assistant of Niccola Pisano at Siena,
and the maker of the tomb of Cardinal de Braye at Orvieto. This tomb is
remarkable as the earliest instance of the canopy withdrawn by attendant
angels from the dead man's form, afterwards so frequently adopted by the
Pisan school.

[17] Giov. Villani, viii. 26.

[18] See Milizia, vol. i. p. 135. These walls were not finished till
some, time after Arnolfo's death. They lost their ornament of towers in
the siege of 1529, and they are now being rapidly destroyed.

[19] From Perkins's _Tuscan Sculptors_, vol. i. p. 54. A recent work by
Signor G.J. Cavallucci, entitled _S. Maria del Fiore_, Firenze, 1881, has
created a revolution in our knowledge regarding this church.

[20] Giov. Villani, x. 192.

[21] _Illustrated Handbook of Architecture_, book vi. chap. i.

[22] _Ib._

[23] See Gruener's _Terra Cotta Architecture of North Italy_, plates 3 and

[24] Compare what Alberti says in his preface to the Treatise on
Painting, _Opere_, vol. iv. p. 12. "Chi mai si duro e si invido non
lodasse Pippo architetto vedendo qui struttura si grande, erta sopra i
cieli, ampla da coprire con sua ombra tutti i popoli toscani, fatta sanza
alcuno aiuto di travamenti o di copia di legname, quale artificio certo,
se io ben giudico, come a questi tempi era incredibile potersi, cosi
forse appresso gli antiqui fu non saputo ne conosciuto?"

[25] What the church of S. Petronio at Bologna would have been, if it had
been completed on the scale contemplated, can hardly be imagined. As it
stands, it is immense, and coldly bare in its immensity. Yet the present
church is but the nave of a temple designed with transepts and choir. The
length was to have been 800 feet, the width of the transepts 625, the
dome 183 feet in diameter. A building so colossal in extent, and so
monotonously meagre in conception, could not but have been a failure.

[26] Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, chap, 1.

[27] The following passage quoted from Milizia, _Memorie degli
Architetti_, Parma, 1781, vol. i. p. 135, illustrates the contemptuous
attitude of Italian critics to Gothic architecture. After describing
Arnolfo's building of the Florentine Duomo, he proceeds: "In questo
Architetto si vide qualche leggiero barlume di buona Architettura, come
di Pittura in Cimabue suo contemporaneo. Ma in tutte le cose e fisiche e
morali i passaggi si fanno per insensibili gradagioni; onde per lungo
tempo ancora si mantenne il corrotto gusto, che si puo chiamare

[28] Observe, for example, the casing of a Gothic church at Rimini by
Alberti with a series of Roman arches; or the facade of S. Andrea at
Mantua, where the vast and lofty central arch leads, not into the nave
itself, but into a shallow vestibule.

[29] See Burckhardt, _Cicerone_, vol. i. p. 167.

[30] See De Stendhal, _Histoire de la Peinture en Italie_, p. 122.

[31] For a notice of his life, see Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, p.

[32] The Arch of Augustus at Rimini was the model followed by Alberti in
this facade. He intended to cover the church with a cupola, as may be
seen from the design on a medal of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. See too
the letter written by him to Matteo da Bastia, Alberti, _Opere_, vol. iv.
p. 397.

[33] This ancestral palace of the Medici passed in 1659 to the Marchese
Gabriele Riccardi, from the Duke Francesco II.

[34] Von Reumont, _Lorenzo de' Medici_, vol. ii. pp. 187-191, may be
consulted for an interesting account of the building of this Casa Grande
by Filippo Strozzi. The preparations were made with great caution, lest
it should seem that a work too magnificent for a simple citizen was being
undertaken; in particular, Filippo so contrived that the costly _opus
rusticum_ employed in the construction of the basement should appear to
have been forced upon him. This is characteristic of Florence in the days
of Cosimo. The foundation stone was laid in the morning of August 16,
1489, at the moment when the sun arose above the summits of the
Casentino. The hour, prescribed by astrologers as propitious, had been
settled by the horoscope; masses meanwhile were said in several churches,
and alms distributed.

[35] Antonio Filarete, or Averulino, architect and sculptor, was author
of a treatise on the building of the ideal city, one of the most curious
specimens of Renaissance fancy, to judge from the account rendered of the
manuscript by Rio, vol. iii. pp. 321-328.

[36] Matteo Civitale, Benedetto da Majano, Mino da Fiesole, Luca della
Robbia, Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia, Lo Scalza, Omodeo, and the
Sansovini, not to mention less illustrious sculptors, filled the churches
of Italy with this elaborate stone-work. Among the bronze-founders it is
enough to name Ghiberti, Antonio Filarete, Antonio Pollajuolo, Donatello
and his pupil Bertoldo, Andrea Riccio, the master of the candelabrum in
S. Antonio at Padua, Jacopo Sansovino, the master of the door of the
sacristy in S. Mark's at Venice, Alessandro Leopardi, the master of the
standard-pedestals of the Piazza of S. Mark's. I do not mean these lists
to be in any sense exhaustive, but simply to remind the reader of the
rare and many-sided men of genius who devoted their abilities to this
kind of work. Some of their masterpieces will be noticed in detail in the
chapter on Sculpture.

[37] Especially his work at Monte Oliveto, near Siena, and in the church
of Monte Oliveto at Naples. The Sala del Cambio at Perugia may also be
cited as rich in tarsia-work designed by Perugino, while the church of S.
Pietro de' Cassinensi outside the city is a museum of masterpieces
executed by Fra Damiano da Bergamo and Stefano da Bergamo from designs of
Raphael. Not less beautiful are the inlaid wood panels in the Palace of
Urbino, by Maestro Giacomo of Florence.

[38] The churches and palaces of Lombardy are peculiarly rich in this
kind of decoration. The facade of the Oratory of S. Bernardino at
Perugia, designed and executed by Agostino di Duccio, is a masterpiece of
rare beauty in this style.

[39] Not to mention the Renaissance mosaics of S. Mark's at Venice, the
cupola of S. Maria del Popolo at Rome, executed in mosaic by Raphael,
deserves special mention. A work illustrative of this cupola is one of
Ludwig Gruener's best publications.

[40] South Italy and Florence are distinguished by two marked styles in
this decoration of inlaid marbles or _opera di commesso_. Compare the
Medicean chapel in S. Lorenzo, for instance, with the high altar of the
cathedral of Messina.

[41] The roof of the Duomo at Volterra is a fine specimen.

[42] It will not be forgotten that Raphael's cartoons were made for

[43] Bramante Lazzari was born at Castel Durante, near Urbino, in 1444.
He spent the early years of his architect's life in Lombardy, in the
service of Lodovico Sforza, and came probably to Rome upon his patron's
downfall in 1499.

[44] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 342.

[45] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, p. 344. See Gregorovius,
_Geschichte der Stadt Rom_, vol. viii. p. 127, and the quotation there
translated from Pallavicini's _History of the Council of Trent_.

[46] See Vol. I., _Age of the Despots_, pp. 296-298. Vol. II., _Revival
of Learning_, pp. 161-166. For his architectural designs see his Life, by
Manetti, book ii., in Muratori, vol. iii. part ii.

[47] Gregorovius, vol. vii. p. 638.

[48] Besides the great work of Bonanni, _Templi Vaticani Historia_, I may
refer my readers to the atlas volume of _Illustrations, Architectural and
Pictorial, of the Genius of Michael Angelo Buonarroti_, compiled by Mr.
Harford (Colnaghi, 1857). Plates 1 to 7 of that work are devoted to the
plans of S. Peter's. Plate 4 is specially interesting, since it
represents in one view the old basilica and the design of Bramante,
together with those of Antonio di S. Gallo and Michael Angelo.

[49] The subterranean vaults of S. Peter's contain mere fragments of
tombs, some precious as historical records, some valuable as works of
art, swept together pell-mell from the ruins of the old basilica.

[50] See the original letter to Ammanati, published from the Archivio
Buonarroti, by Signor Milanesi, p. 535.

[51] I am far from meaning that the earlier architects had not been
guided by ancient authors. Alberti's _Treatise on the Art of Building_ is
a sufficient proof of their study of Vitruvius, and we know that Fabio
Calvi translated that writer into Italian for Raphael. In the later
Renaissance this study passed into purism.

[52] It must be confessed that this grandiose and picturesque structure
is but a shell to mask an earlier Gothic edifice.

[53] Compare Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, p. 370, for the same
transference of power in literature from Central to Northern Italy at
this time.

[54] Palladio's _Four Books of Architecture_, first published at Venice
in 1570, and Vignola's _Treatise on the Five Orders_, have been
translated into all the modern languages. Scamozzi projected, and partly
finished, a comprehensive work on _Universal Architecture_, which was
printed in 1685 at Venice.

[55] See Vol. II., _Revival of Learning_, chap. viii.



Niccola Pisano--Obscurity of the Sources for a History of Early Italian
Sculpture--Vasari's Legend of Pisano--Deposition from the Cross at
Lucca--Study of Nature and the Antique--Sarcophagus at Pisa--Pisan
Pulpit--Niccola's School--Giovanni Pisano--Pulpit in S. Andrea at
Pistoja--Fragments of his work at Pisa--Tomb of Benedict XI. at
Perugia--Bas-reliefs at Orvieto--Andrea Pisano--Relation of Sculpture to
Painting--Giotto--Subordination of Sculpture to Architecture in
Italy--Pisano's Influence in Venice--Balduccio of Pisa--Orcagna--The
Tabernacle of Orsammichele--The Gates of the Florentine Baptistery
--Competition of Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, and Della Quercia--Comparison
of Ghiberti's and Brunelleschi's Trial-pieces--Comparison of Ghiberti
and Della Quercia--The Bas-reliefs of S. Petronio--Ghiberti's
Education--His Pictorial Style in Bas-relief--His Feeling for the
Antique--Donatello--Early Visit to Rome--Christian Subjects--Realistic
Treatment--S. George and David--Judith--Equestrian Statue of
Gattamelata--Influence of Donatello's Naturalism--Andrea Verocchio--His
David--Statue of Colleoni--Alessandro Leopardi--Lionardo's Statue of
Francesco Sforza--The Pollajuoli--Tombs of Sixtus IV. and Innocent
VIII.--Luca della Robbia--His Treatment of Glazed Earthenware--Agostino
di Duccio--The Oratory of S. Bernardino at Perugia--Antonio
Rossellino--Matteo Civitali--Mino da Fiesole--Benedetto da
Majano--Characteristics and Masterpieces of this Group--Sepulchral
Monuments--Andrea Contucci's Tombs in S. Maria del Popolo--Desiderio da
Settignano--Sculpture in S. Francesco at Rimini--Venetian
Sculpture--Verona--Guido Mazzoni of Modena--Certosa of Pavia--Colleoni
Chapel at Bergamo--Sansovino at Venice--Pagan Sculpture--Michael Angelo's
Scholars--Baccio Bandinelli--Bartolommeo Ammanati--Cellini--Gian
Bologna--Survey of the History of Renaissance Sculpture.

In the procession of the fine arts, sculpture always follows close upon
the steps of architecture, and at first appears in some sense as her
handmaid. Mediaeval Italy found her Pheidias in a great man of Pisan
origin, born during the first decade of the thirteenth century. It was
Niccola Pisano, architect and sculptor, who first breathed with the breath
of genius life into the dead forms of plastic art. From him we date the
dawn of the aesthetical Renaissance with the same certainty as from
Petrarch that of humanism; for he determined the direction not only of
sculpture but also of painting in Italy. To quote the language of Lord
Lindsay's panegyric: "Neither Dante nor Shakspere can boast such extent
and durability of influence; for whatever of highest excellence has been
achieved in sculpture and painting, not in Italy only but throughout
Europe, has been in obedience to the impulse he primarily gave, and in
following up the principle which he first struck out."[56] In truth,
Niccola Pisano put the artist on the right track of combining the study of
antiquity with the study of nature; and to him belongs the credit not
merely of his own achievement, considerable as that may be, but also of
the work of his immediate scholars and of all who learned from him to
portray life. From Niccola Pisano onward to Michael Angelo and Cellini we
trace one genealogy of sculptors, who, though they carried art beyond the
sphere of his invention, looked back to him as their progenitor. The man
who first emancipated sculpture from servile bondage, and opened a way for
the attainment of true beauty, would by the Greeks have been honoured with
a special cultas as the Hero Eponym of art. It remains for us after our
own fashion to pay some such homage to Pisano.

The chief difficulty with which the student of early art and literature
has to deal, is the insufficiency of positive information. Instead of
accurate dates and well-established facts he finds a legend, rich
apparently in detail, but liable at every point to doubt, and subject to
attack by plausible conjecture. In the absence of contemporary documents
and other trustworthy sources of instruction, he is tempted to substitute
his own hypotheses for tradition and to reconstruct the faulty outlines of
forgotten history according to his own ideas of fitness. The Germans have
been our masters in this species of destructive, dubitative, restorative
criticism; and it is undoubtedly flattering to the historian's vanity to
constitute himself a judge and arbiter in cases where tact and ingenuity
may claim to sift the scattered fragment of confused narration. Yet to
resist this temptation is in many cases a plain and simple duty.
Tradition, when not positively disproved, should be allowed to have its
full value; and a sounder historic sense is exercised in adopting its
testimony with due caution, than in recklessly rejecting it and
substituting guesses which the lack of knowledge renders unsubstantial.
Tradition may err about dates, details, and names. It is just here that
antiquarian research can render valuable help. But there are occasions
when the perusal of documents and the exercise of what is called the
higher criticism afford no surer basis for opinion. If in such cases a
legend has been formed and recorded, the student will advance further
toward comprehending the spirit of his subject by patiently considering
what he knows to be in part perhaps a mythus, than by starting with the
foregone conclusion that the legend must of necessity be worthless, and
that his cunning will suffice to supply the missing clue.[57]

Thus much I have said by way of preface to what follows upon Niccola
Pisano. Almost all we know about him is derived from a couple of
inscriptions, a few contracts, and his Life by Giorgio Vasari. It is clear
that Vasari often wrote with carelessness, confusing dates and places, and
taking no pains to verify the truth of his assertions. Much of Niccola's
biography reads like a legend in his pages--the popular and oral tradition
of a great man, whose panegyric it was more easy in the sixteenth century
to adorn with rhetoric than to chronicle the details of his life with
scrupulous fidelity. A well-founded conviction of Vasari's frequent
inaccuracy has induced recent critics to call in question many hitherto
accepted points about the nationality and training of Pisano. The
discussion, of their arguments I leave for the appendix, contenting myself
at present with relating so much of Vasari's legend as cannot, I think,
reasonably be rejected.[58]

Before the sculptor appeared in Niccola Pisano, he was already a famous
architect; and it must always be remembered that he and his school
subordinated the plastic to the constructive arts. It was not until the
year 1233, or 1237, according to different modern calculations, that he
executed his first masterpiece in sculpture.[59] This was a "Deposition
from the Cross," in high relief, placed in a lunette over one of the side
doors of S. Martino at Lucca. The noble forms of this group, the largeness
of its style, the breadth of drapery and freedom of action it displays,
but, above all, the unity of its design, proclaimed that a new era had
begun for art. In order to appreciate the importance of this relief, it
is only necessary to compare it with the processional treatment of similar
subjects upon early Christian sarcophagi, where each figure stands up
stiff and separate, nor can the controlling and combining artist's thought
be traced in any effort after composition. Ever since the silver age of
Hadrian, when a Bithynian slave by his beauty gave a final impulse to the
Genius of Greece, sculpture had been gradually declining until nothing was
left but a formal repetition of conventional outlines. The so-called
Romanesque and Byzantine styles were but the dotage of second childhood,
fumbling with the methods and materials of an irrecoverable past. It is
true, indeed, that unknown mediaeval carvers had shown an instinct for the
beautiful as well as great fertility of grotesque invention. The facades
of Lombard churches are covered with fanciful and sometimes forcibly
dramatic groups of animals and men in combat; and contemporaneously with
Niccola Pisano, many Gothic sculptors of the North were adorning the
facades and porches of cathedrals with statuary unrivalled in one style of
loveliness.[60] Yet the founder of a line of progressive artists had not
arisen, and, except in Italy, the conditions were still wanting under
which alone the plastic arts could attain to independence. A fresh start,
at once conscious and scientific, was imperatively demanded. This new
beginning sculpture took in the brain of Niccola Pisano, who returned from
the bye-paths of his predecessors to the free field of nature, and who
learned precious lessons from the fragments of classical sculpture
existing in his native town. As though to prove the essential dependence
of the modern revival upon the recovery of antique culture, we find that
his genius, in spite of its powerful originality and profoundly Christian
bias, required the confirmation which could only be derived from
Graeco-Roman precedent. In the Campo Santo at Pisa may still be seen a
sarcophagus representing the story of Hippolytus and Phaedra, where once
reposed the dust of Beatrice, the mother of the pious Countess Matilda of
Tuscany. Studying the heroic nudities and noble attitudes of this
bas-relief, Niccola rediscovered the right way of art--not by merely
copying his model, but by divining the secret of the grand style. His work
at Pisa contains abundant evidence that, while he could not wholly free
himself from the defects of the later Romanesque manner, betrayed by his
choice of short and square-set types, he nevertheless learned from the
antique how to aim at beauty and freedom in his imitation of the living
human form. A marble vase, sculptured with Indian Bacchus and his train of
Maenads, gave him further help. From these grave or graceful classic forms,
satisfied with their own goodliness, and void of inner symbolism, the
Christian sculptor drank the inspiration of Renaissance art. In the
"Adoration of the Magi," carved upon his Pisan pulpit, Madonna assumes the
haughty pose of Theseus' wife; while the high priest, in the
"Circumcision," displays the majesty of Dionysus leaning on the neck of
Ampelus. Nor again is the naked vigour of Hippolytus without its echo in
the figure of the young man--Hercules or Fortitude--upon a bracket of the
same pulpit. These sculptures of Pisano are thus for us a symbol of what
happened in the age of the Revival. The old world and the new shook hands;
Christianity and Hellenism kissed each other. And yet they still remained
antagonistic--fused externally by art, but severed in the consciousness
that, during those strange years of dubious impulse, felt the might of
both. Monks leaning from Pisano's pulpit preached the sinfulness of
natural pleasure to women whose eyes were fixed on the adolescent beauty
of an athlete. Not far off was the time when Filarete should cast in
bronze the legends of Ganymede and Leda for the portals of S. Peter's,
when Raphael should mingle a carnival of more than pagan sensuality with
Bible subjects in Leo's Loggie, when Guglielmo della Porta should place
the naked portrait of Giulia Bella in marble at the feet of Paul III. upon
his sepulchre.[61]

Niccola, meanwhile, did not follow his Roman models in any slavish spirit.
They were neither numerous nor excellent enough to compel blind imitation
or to paralyse inventive impulse. The thoughts to be expressed in marble
by the first modern artist were not Greek. This in itself saved him from
that tendency to idle reproduction which proved the ruin of the later
neo-pagan sculptors. Yet the fragments of antique work he found within his
reach, helped him to struggle after a higher quality of style, and
established standards of successful treatment. For the rest, his choice of
form and the proportions of his figures show that Niccola resorted to
native Tuscan models. If nothing of his handiwork were left but the
bas-relief of the "Inferno" on the Pisan pulpit, the torsos of the men
struggling with demons in that composition would prove this point. It
remains his crowning merit to have first expressed the mythology of
Christianity and the sentiment of the Middle Ages with the conscious aim
of a real artist. And here it may be noticed that, a true Italian, he
infused but little of intense or mystical emotion into his art. Niccola is
more of a humanist, if this word may be applied to a sculptor, than some
of his immediate successors. The hexagonal pulpit in the Baptistery of
Pisa, the octagonal pulpit in the cathedral of Siena, the fountain in the
marketplace of Perugia, and the shrine of S. Dominic at Bologna, all of
them designed and partly finished between 1260 and 1274 by Niccola and his
scholars, display his mastery over the art of sculpture in the maturity of
his genius. So highly did the Pisans prize their fellow-townsman's pulpit
that a law was passed and guardians were appointed for its
preservation--much in the same way as the Zeus of Pheidias was consigned
to the care of the Phaidruntai.

Niccola Pisano founded a school. His son Giovanni, and the numerous pupils
employed upon the monuments just mentioned at Siena, Bologna, and Perugia,
carried on the tradition of their master, and spread his style abroad
through Italy. Giovanni Pisano, to whom we owe the Spina Chapel and the
Campo Santo at Pisa, the facade of the Sienese Duomo, and the altar-shrine
of S. Donato at Arezzo--four of the purest works of Gothic art in
Italy--showed a very decided leaning to the vehement and mystic style of
the Transalpine sculptors. We trace a dramatic intensity in Giovanni's
work, not derived from his father, not caught from study of the antique,
and curiously blended with the general characteristics of the Pisan
school. In spite of the Gothic cusps introduced by Niccola into his
pulpits, the spirit of his work remained classical. The young Hercules
holding the lion's cub in his right hand upon his shoulder, while with his
left he tames the raging lioness, has the true Italian instinct for a
return to Latin style. The same sympathy with the past is observable in
the self-restraint and comparative coldness of the bas-reliefs at Pisa.
The Junonian attitude of Madonna, the senatorial dignity of Simeon, the
ponderous folding of the drapery, and the massive carriage of the neck
throughout, denote an effort to revivify an antique manner. What,
therefore, Niccola effected for sculpture was a classical revival in the
very depth of the Middle Ages. The case is different with his son
Giovanni. Profiting by the labours of his father, and following in his
footsteps, he carried the new art into another region, and brought a
genius of more picturesque and forcible temper into play. The value of
this new direction given to sculpture for the arts of Italy, especially
for painting, cannot be exaggerated. Without Giovanni's intervention, the
achievement of Niccola might possibly have been as unproductive of
immediate results as the Tuscan Romanesque, that mediaeval effort after the
Renaissance, was in architecture.[62]

The Gothic element, so cautiously adopted by Niccola, is used with
sympathy and freedom by his son, whose masterpiece, the pulpit of S.
Andrea at Pistoja, might be selected as the supreme triumph of Italian
Gothic sculpture. The superiority of that complex and consummate work of
plastic art over the pulpit of the Pisan Baptistery, in all the most
important qualities of style and composition, can scarcely be called in
question. Its only serious fault is an exaggeration of the height of the
pillars in proportion to the size of the hexagon they support. Like the
pulpits of the Baptistery, of the Duomo of Pisa, and of the Duomo of
Siena, it combines bas-reliefs and detached statues, carved capitals, and
sculptured lions, in a maze of marvellous invention; but it has no rival
in the architectonic effect of harmony, and the masterly feeling for
balanced masses it displays. The five subjects chosen by Giovanni for his
bas-reliefs are the "Nativity," the "Adoration of the Magi," the "Massacre
of the Innocents," the "Crucifixion," and the "Last Judgment." In the
"Nativity" our Lady is no longer the Roman matron of Niccola's conception,
but a graceful mother, young in years, and bending with the weakness of
childbirth. Her attitude, exquisite by the suggestion of tenderness and
delicacy, is one that often reappears in the later work of the Pisan
school--for example, in the rough _abozzamento_ in the Campo Santo at
Pisa, above the north door of the Duomo at Lucca, and at Orvieto on the
facade of the cathedral; but it has nowhere else been treated with the
same sense of beauty. The "Massacre of the Innocents," compared with this
relief, is a tragedy beside an idyll. Here the whole force of Giovanni's
eminently dramatic genius comes into full play. Not only has he treated
the usual incidents of mothers struggling with soldiers and bewailing
their dead darlings, but he has also introduced a motive, which might well
have been used by subsequent artists in dealing with the same subjects.
Herod is throned in one corner of the composition; before him stand a
group of men and women, some imploring the tyrant for mercy, some defying
him in impotent despair, and some invoking the curse of God upon his head.
In the "Adoration of the Magi," again, Giovanni shows originality by the
double action he has chosen to develop. On one side the kings are
sleeping, while an angel comes to wake them, pointing out the star. On the
other side they fall at the feet of the Madonna. It will be gathered even
from these bare descriptions that Giovanni introduced a stir of life and
movement, and felt his subjects with a poetic intensity, alien to the
ideal of Graeco-Roman sculpture. He effected a fusion between the grand
style revived by Niccola and the romantic fervour of the modern
imagination. It was in this way that the tradition handed down by him
proved inestimably serviceable to the painters.

The bas-reliefs, however, by no means form the chief attraction of this
pulpit. At each of its six angles stand saints, evangelists, and angels,
whose symbolism it is not now so easy to decipher. The most beautiful
groups are a company of angels blowing the judgment trumpets, and a winged
youth standing above a winged lion and bull. These groups separate the
several compartments of the bas-reliefs, and help to form the body of the
pulpit. Beneath, on capital's of the supporting pillars, stand the Sibyls,
each with her attendant genius, while prophets lean or crouch within the
spandrils of the arches. Thus every portion of this master-work is crowded
with figures--some detached, some executed in relief; and yet, amid so
great a multitude, the eye is not confused; the total effect is nowhere
dissipated. The whole seems governed by one constructive thought,
projected as a perfect unity of composition.[63]

A later work of Giovanni Pisano was the pulpit executed for the cathedral
of Pisa, now unfortunately broken up. An interesting fragment, one of the
supporting columns of the octagon which formed the body of this structure,
still exists in the museum of the Campo Santo. It is an allegorical statue
of Pisa. The Ghibelline city is personified as a crowned woman, suckling
children at her breast, and standing on a pedestal supported by the eagle
of the Empire. She wears a girdle of rope seven times knotted, to betoken
the rule of Pisa over seven subject islands. At the four corners of her
throne stand the four human virtues, Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and
Fortitude, distinguished less by beauty of shape than by determined energy
of symbolism. Temperance is a naked woman, with hair twisted in the knots
and curls of a Greek Aphrodite. Justice is old and wrinkled, clothed with
massive drapery, and holding in her hand the scales. Throughout this
group there is no attempt to realise forms pleasing to the eye; the
sculptor has aimed at suggesting to the mind as many points of
intellectual significance as possible. In spite of ugliness and hardness,
the "Allegory of Pisa" commands respect by vigour of conception, and
rivets attention by force of execution.

A more popular and pleasing monument by Giovanni Pisano is the tomb of
Benedict XI. in the church of S. Domenico at Perugia. The Pope, whose life
was so obnoxious to the ambition of Philip le Bel that his timely death
aroused suspicion of poison, lies asleep upon his marble bier with hands
crossed in an attitude of peaceful expectation.[64] At his head and feet
stand angels drawing back the curtains that would else have shrouded this
last slumber of a good man from the eyes of the living.[65] A contrast is
thus established between the repose of the dead and the ever-watchful
activity of celestial ministers. Sleep so guarded, the sculptor seeks to
tell us, must have glorious waking; and when those hands unfold upon the
Resurrection morning, the hushed sympathy of the attendant angels will
break into smiles and singing, as they lead the just man to the Lord he
served in life.

Whether Giovanni Pisano had any share in the sculpture on the facade of
the cathedral at Orvieto, is not known for certain. Vasari asserts that
Niccola and his pupils worked upon this series of bas-reliefs, setting
forth the whole Biblical history and the cycle of Christian beliefs from
the creation of the world to the last judgment. Yet we know that Niccola
himself died at least twelve years before the foundation of the church in
1290; nor is there any proof that his immediate scholars were engaged upon
the fabric. The Orvietan archives are singularly silent with regard to a
monument of so large extent and vast importance, which must have taxed to
the uttermost the resources of the ablest stone-carvers in Italy.[66]
Meanwhile, what Vasari says is valuable only as a witness to the fame of
Niccola Pisano. His manner, as continued and developed by his school, is
unmistakable at Orvieto: but in the absence of direct information, we are
left to conjecture the conditions under which this, the closing if not the
crowning achievement of thirteenth-century sculpture, was produced.

When the great founder of Italian art visited Siena in 1266 for the
completion of his pulpit in the Duomo, he found a guild of sculptors, or
_taglia-pietri_, in that city, numbering some sixty members, and governed
by a rector and three chamberlains. Instead of regarding Niccola with
jealousy, these craftsmen only sought to learn his method. Accordingly it
seems that a new impulse was given to sculpture in Siena; and famous
workmen arose who combined this art with that of building. The chief of
these was Lorenzo Maitani, who died in 1330, having designed and carried
to completion the Duomo of Orvieto during his lifetime.[67] While engaged
in this great undertaking, Maitani directed a body of architects,
stone-carvers, bronze-founders, mosaists, and painters, gathered together
into a guild from the chief cities of Tuscany. It cannot be proved that
any of the Pisani, properly so called, were among their number. Lacking
evidence to the contrary, we must give to Maitani, the master-spirit of
the company, full credit for the sculpture carried out in obedience to his
general plan. As the church of S. Francis at Assisi formed an epoch in the
history of painting, by concentrating the genius of Giotto on a series of
masterpieces, so the Duomo of Orvieto, by giving free scope to the school
of Pisa, marked a point in the history of sculpture. It would be difficult
to find elsewhere even separate works of greater force and beauty
belonging to this, the first or architectural, period of Italian
sculpture; and nowhere has the whole body of Christian belief been set
forth with method more earnest and with vigour more sustained.[68] The
subjects selected by these unknown craftsmen for illustration in marble,
are in many instances the same as those afterwards painted in fresco by
Michael Angelo and Raphael at Borne. Their treatment, for example, of the
creation of Adam and Eve, adopted in all probability from still earlier
and ruder workmen, after being refined by the improvements of successive
generations, may still be observed in the triumphs of the Sistine Chapel
and the Loggie.[69] It was the practice of Italian artists not to seek
originality by diverging from the traditional modes of presentation, but
to prove their mastery by rendering these as perfect and effective as the
maturity of art could make them. For the Italians, as before them for the
Greeks, plagiarism was a word unknown, in all cases where it was possible
to improve upon the invention of less fortunate predecessors. The student
of art may, therefore, now enjoy the pleasure of tracing sculpturesque or
pictorial motives from their genesis in some rude fragment to their final
development in the master-works of a Lionardo or a Raphael, where
scientific grouping of figures, higher idealisation of style, the
suggestion of freer movement, and more varied dramatic expression yield at
last the full flower that the simple germ enfolded.

Among the most distinguished scholars of Niccola Pisano's tradition must
now be mentioned Andrea da Pontadera, called Andrea Pisano, who carried
the manner of his master to Florence, and helped to fulfil the destiny of
Italian sculpture by submitting it to the rising art of painting. Under
the direction of Giotto he carved statues for the Campanile and the facade
of S. Maria del Fiore; and in the first gate of the Baptistery, he
bequeathed a model of bas-relief in bronze, which largely influenced the
style of masters in the fifteenth century. To overpraise the simplicity
and beauty of design, the purity of feeling, and the technical excellence
of Andrea's bronze-work, would be difficult. Many students will always be
found to prefer his self-restraint and delicacy to the more florid manner
of Ghiberti.[70] What we chiefly observe in this gate is the control
exercised by the sister art of painting over his mode of conception and
treatment. If Giovanni Pisano developed the dramatic and emphatic
qualities of Gothic sculpture, Andrea was attracted to its allegories; if
Giovanni infused romantic vehemence of feeling into the frigid classicism
of his father, Andrea diverged upon another track of picturesque
delineation. A new sun had now arisen in the heavens of art. This was the
sun of Giotto, whose genius, eminently pictorial, brought the Italians to
a true sense of their aesthetical vocation, illuminating with its
brightness the elder and more technically finished craft of the
stone-carver. Sculpture, which in the school of Niccola Pisano had been
subordinate to architecture, became a sub-species of painting in the hands
of Andrea.

It was thus, as I have elsewhere stated, that the twofold doom of plastic
art in Italy was accomplished. In order to embody the ideas of
Christianity, art had to think more of expression than of pure form.
Expression is the special sphere of painting; and therefore sculpture
followed the lead of the sister art, as soon as painting was strong enough
to give that lead, instead of remaining, as in Greece, the mistress of her
own domain. On the deeper reasons for this subordination of sculpture to
painting I have dwelt already, while showing that a large class of
subjects, where physical qualities are comparatively indifferent and of no
account, were forced upon the artist by Christianity.[71] Humility and
charity may be found alike in blooming youth or in ascetic age; nor is it
possible to characterize saints and martyrs by those corporeal
characteristics which distinguish a runner from a boxer, or a chaste
huntress from a voluptuous queen of love. Italian sculpture abandoned the
presentation of the naked human body as useless. The emotions written on
the face became of more importance than the modelling of the limbs, and
recourse was had to allegorical symbols or emblematic attitudes for the
interpretation of the artist's thought. Andrea Pisano's figure of Hope,
raising hands and eyes toward an offered crown, seems but a repetition of
the motive expressed by Giotto in the chiaroscuro frescoes of the Arena
chapel.[72] Owing to similar causes, drapery, which in Greece had served
to illustrate the structure or the movement of the body it clothed, was
used by the Italian sculptors to conceal the limbs, and to enhance by
flowing skirt or sinuous fold or agitated scarf some quality of the
emotions. The result was that sculpture assumed a place subordinate to
painting, and that the masterpieces of the early Italian carvers are
chiefly bas-reliefs--pictures in bronze or marble.[73]

In a like degree, though not for the same reason, sculpture in Italy
remained subordinate to architecture, until such time as the neo-Hellenism
of the full Renaissance produced a crowd of pseudo-classic statues,
destined to take their places--not in churches, but in the courtyards of
palaces and on the open squares of cities. The cause of this fact is not
far to seek. In ancient Greece the temple had been erected for the god,
and the statue dwelt within the cella like a master in his house.
Christianity forbade an image of the living God; consequently the Church
had another object than to roof the statue of a deity. It was the
meeting-place of a congregation bent on worshipping Him who dwells not in
houses made with hands, and whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain. The
vast spaces and aerial arcades of mediaeval architecture had their meaning
in relation to the mystic apprehension of an unseen power. It followed of
necessity that the carved work destined to decorate a Christian temple
could never be the main feature of the building. It existed for the
Church, and not the Church for it.[74]

Through Andrea Pisano the style of Niccola was extended to Venice. There
is reason to believe that he instructed Filippo Calendario, to whom we
should ascribe the sculptured corners of the Ducal Palace. Venice,
however, invariably exercised her own controlling influence over the arts
of aliens; so we find a larger, freer, richer, and more mundane treatment
in these splendid carvings than in aught produced by Pisan workmen for
their native towns of Tuscany.

Nino, the sculptor of the "Madonna della Rosa," the chief ornament of the
Spina chapel, and Tommaso, both sons of Andrea da Pontadera, together with
Giovanni Balduccio of Pisa, continued the traditions of the school founded
by Niccola. Balduccio, invited by Azzo Visconti to Milan, carved the
shrine of S. Peter Martyr in the church of S. Eustorgio, and impressed his
style on Matteo da Campione, the sculptor of the shrine of S. Augustine at
Pavia.[75] These facts, though briefly stated, are not without
significance. Travellers who have visited the churches of Pavia and Milan,
after studying the shrine, or _arca_ as Italians call it, of S. Dominic at
Bologna, must have noticed the ascendency of Pisan style in these three
Lombard towns, and have felt how widely Niccola's creative genius was
exercised. Traces of the same influence may perhaps be observed in the
tombs of the Scaligers at Verona.[76]

The most eminent pupil of Andrea Pisano, however, was a Florentine--the
great Andrea Arcagnuolo di Cione, commonly known as Orcagna. This man,
like the more illustrious Giotto, was one among the earliest of those
comprehensive, many-sided natures produced by Florence for her everlasting
glory. He studied the goldsmith's craft under his father, Cione, passing
the years of his apprenticeship, like other Tuscan artists, in the
technical details of an industry that then supplied the strictest method
of design. With his brother, Bernardo, he practised painting. Like Giotto,
he was no mean poet;[77] and like all the higher craftsmen of his age, he
was an architect. Though the church of Orsammichele owes its present form
to Taddeo Gaddi, Orcagna, as _capo maestro_ after Gaddi's death, completed
the structure; and though the Loggia de' Lanzi, long ascribed to him by
writers upon architecture, is now known to be the work of Benci di Cione,
yet Orcagna's Loggia del Bigallo, more modest but not less beautiful,
prepared the way for its construction. Of his genius as a painter, proved
by the frescoes in the Strozzi chapel, I shall have to speak hereafter. As
a sculptor he is best known through the tabernacle of Orsammichele, built
to enshrine the picture of the Madonna by Ugolino da Siena.[78]

In this monument Orcagna employed carved bas-reliefs and statuettes,
intaglios and mosaics, incrustations of agates, enamels, and gilded glass
patterns, with a sense of harmony so refined, and a mastery over each kind
of workmanship so perfect, that the whole tabernacle is an epitome of the
minor arts of mediaeval Italy. The subordination of sculpture to
architectural effect is noticeable; and the Giottesque influence appears
even more strongly here than in the gate of Andrea Pisano. This influence
Orcagna received indirectly through his master in stone carving; it
formed, indeed, the motive force of figurative art during his lifetime.
The subjects of the "Annunciation," the "Nativity," the "Marriage of the
Virgin," and the "Adoration of the Three Kings," framed in octagonal
mouldings at the base of the tabernacle, illustrate the domination of a
spirit distinct both from the neo-Romanism of Niccola and the Gothicism of
Giovanni Pisano. That spirit is Florentine in a general sense, and
specifically Giottesque. Charity, again, with a flaming heart in her hand,
crowned with a flaming brazier, and suckling a child, is Giottesque not
only in allegorical conception but also in choice of type and treatment of

While admiring the tabernacle of Orsammichele, we are reminded that
Orcagna was a goldsmith to begin with, and a painter. Sculpture he
practised as an accessory. What the artists of Florence gained in delicacy
of execution, accuracy of modelling, and precision of design by their
apprenticeship to the goldsmith's trade, was hardly perhaps sufficient to
compensate for loss of training in a larger style. It was difficult, we
fancy, for men so educated to conceive the higher purposes of sculpture.
Contented with elaborate workmanship and beauty of detail, they failed to
attain to such independence of treatment as may be reached by sculptors
who do not carry to their work the preconceptions of a narrower
handicraft. Thus even Orcagna's masterpiece may strike us not as the
plaything of a Pheidian genius condescending for once to "breathe through
silver," but of a consummate goldsmith taxing the resources of his craft
to form a monumental jewel.[79]

The facade of Orvieto was the final achievement of the first or
architectural period of Italian sculpture. Giotto, Andrea Pisano, and
Orcagna, formed the transition to the second period. To find one
characteristic title for the style of the fifteenth century is not easy,
since it was marked by many distinct peculiarities. If, however, we
choose to call it pictorial, we shall sufficiently mark the quality of
some eminent masters, and keep in view the supremacy of painting at this
epoch. A great public enterprise at Florence brings together in honourable
rivalry the chief craftsmen of the new age, and marks the advent of the
Renaissance. When the Signory, in concert with the Arte de' Mercanti,
decided to complete the bronze gates of the Baptistery in the first year
of the fifteenth century, they issued a manifesto inviting the sculptors
of Italy to prepare designs for competition. Their call was answered by
Giacomo della Quercia of Siena, by Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo di
Cino Ghiberti of Florence, and by two other Tuscan artists of less note.
The young Donatello, aged sixteen, is said to have been consulted as to
the rival merits of the proofs submitted to the judges. Thus the four
great masters of Tuscan art in its prime met before the Florentine
Baptistery.[80] Giacomo della Quercia was excluded from the competition at
an early stage; but the umpires wavered long between Ghiberti and
Brunelleschi, until the latter, with notable generosity, feeling the
superiority of his rival, and conscious perhaps that his own laurels were
to be gathered in the field of architecture, withdrew his claim. In 1403,
Ghiberti received the commission for the first of the two remaining gates.
He afterwards obtained the second; and as they were not finished until
1452, the better part of his lifetime was spent upon them. He received in
all a sum of 30,798 golden florins for his labour and the cost of the
material employed.

The trial-pieces prepared by Brunelleschi and Ghiberti are now preserved
in the Bargello.[81] Their subject is the "Sacrifice of Isaac;" and a
comparison of the two leaves no doubt of Ghiberti's superiority. The
faults of Brunelleschi's model are want of repose and absence of
composition. Abraham rushes in a frenzy of murderous agitation at his son,
who writhes beneath the knife already at his throat. The angel swoops from
heaven with extended arms, reaching forth one hand to show the ram to
Abraham, and clasping the patriarch's wrist with the other. The ram
meanwhile is scratching his nose with his near hind leg; one of the
servants is taking a thorn from his foot, while the other fills a cup from
the stream at which the ass is drinking. Thus each figure has a separate
uneasy action. Those critics who contend that the unrest of
sixteenth-century sculpture was due to changes in artistic and religious
feeling wrought by the Renaissance, would do well to examine this plate,
and see how much account must be taken of the artist's temperament in
forming their opinion. Brunelleschi adhered to the style and taste of the
fifteenth century at its commencement; but the too fervid quality of his
character impaired his work as a sculptor. Ghiberti, on the other hand,
translated the calm of his harmonious nature into his composition. The
angel leans from heaven and points to the ram, which is seated quietly and
out of sight of the main actors. Isaac kneels in the attitude of a
submissive victim, though his head is turned aside, as if attracted by the
rush of pinions through the air; while Abraham has but just lifted his
hand, and the sacrifice is only suggested as a possibility by the naked
knife. The two servants are grouped below in conversation, one on each
side of the browsing ass. This power of telling a story plainly, but
without dramatic vehemence; of eliminating the painful details of the
subject, and combining its chief motives into one agreeable whole, gave
peculiar charm to Ghiberti's manner. It marked him as an artist
distinguished by good taste.

How Delia Quercia treated the "Sacrifice of Isaac" we do not know. His
bas-reliefs upon the facade of S. Petronio at Bologna, and round the font
of S. John's Chapel in the cathedral of Siena, enable us, however, to
compare his style with that of Ghiberti in the handling of a subject
common to both, the "Creation of Eve."[82] There is no doubt but that
Della Quercia was a formidable rival. Had the gates of the Baptistery been
entrusted to his execution, we might have possessed a masterpiece of more
heroic style. While smoothness and an almost voluptuous suavity of outline
distinguish Ghiberti's naked Eve, gliding upheld by angels from the side
of Adam at her Maker's bidding, Della Quercia's group, by the
concentration of robust and rugged power, anticipates the style of Michael
Angelo. Ghiberti treats the subject pictorially, placing his figures in a
landscape, and lavishing attendant angels. Della Quercia, in obedience to
the stricter laws of sculpture, restrains his composition to the three
chief persons, and brings them into close connection. While Adam reclines
asleep in a beautiful and highly studied attitude, Eve has just stepped
forth behind him, and God stands robed in massive drapery, raising His
hand as though to draw her into life. There is, perhaps, an excess of
dramatic action in the lifted right leg of Eve, and too much of pantomimic
language in the expressive hands of Eve and her Creator. The robe, again,
in its voluminous and snaky coils, and the triangular nimbus of the Deity,
convey an effect of heaviness rather than of majesty. Yet we feel, while
studying this composition, that it is a noble and original attempt,
falling but little short of supreme accomplishment. Without this
antecedent sketch, Michael Angelo might not have matured the most complete
of all his designs in the Sistine Chapel. The similarity between Delia
Quercia's bas-relief and Buonarroti's fresco of Eve is incontestable. The
young Florentine, while an exile in Bologna, and engaged upon the shrine
of S. Dominic, must have spent hours of study before the sculptures of S.
Petronio; so that this seed of Della Quercia's sowing bore after many
years the fruit of world-renowned achievement in Rome.

Two other memorable works of Della Quercia must be parenthetically
mentioned. These are the Fonte Gaja on the public square of Siena, now
unhappily restored, and the portrait of Ilaria del Carretto on her tomb in
the cathedral of Lucca. The latter has long been dear to English students
of Italian art through words inimitable for their strength of sympathetic

Ghiberti was brought up as a goldsmith by his stepfather, and it is said
that while a youth he spent much of his leisure in modelling portraits and
casting imitations of antique gems and coins for his friends. At the same
time he practised painting. We find him employed in decorating a palace at
Rimini for Carlo Malatesta, when his stepfather recalled him to Florence,
in order that he might compete for the gate of the Baptistery. It is
probable that from this early training Ghiberti derived the delicacy of
style and smoothness of execution that are reckoned among the chief merits
of his work. He also developed a manner more pictorial than sculpturesque,
which justifies our calling him a painter in bronze. When Sir Joshua
Reynolds remarked, "Ghiberti's landscape and buildings occupied so large a
portion of the compartments, that the figures remained but secondary
objects,"[84] his criticism might fairly have been taxed with some
injustice even to the second of the two gates. Yet, though exaggerated in
severity, his words convey a truth important for the understanding of this
period of Italian art.

The first gate may be cited as the supreme achievement of bronze-casting
in the Tuscan prime. In the second, by the introduction of elaborate
landscapes and the massing together of figures arranged in multitudes at
three and sometimes four distances, Ghiberti overstepped the limits that
separate sculpture from painting. Having learned perspective from
Brunelleschi, he was eager to apply this new science to his own craft, not
discerning that it has no place in noble bas-relief. He therefore
abandoned the classical and the early Tuscan tradition, whereby reliefs,
whether high or low, are strictly restrained to figures arranged in line
or grouped together without accessories. Instead of painting frescoes, he
set himself to model in bronze whole compositions that might have been
expressed with propriety in colour. The point of Sir Joshua's criticism,
therefore, is that Ghiberti's practice of distributing figures on a small
scale in spacious landscape framework was at variance with the severity of
sculptural treatment. The pernicious effect of his example may be traced
in much Florentine work of the mid Renaissance period which passed for
supremely clever when it was produced. What the unique genius of Ghiberti
made not merely pardonable but even admirable, became under other hands no
less repulsive than the transference of pictorial effects to painted

That Ghiberti was not a great sculptor of statues is proved by his work at
Orsammichele. He was no architect, as we know from his incompetence to do
more than impede Brunelleschi in the building of the dome. He came into
the world to create a new and inimitable style of hybrid beauty in those
gates of Paradise. His susceptibility to the first influences of the
classical revival deserves notice here, since it shows to what an extent a
devotee of Greek art in the fifteenth century could worship the relics of
antiquity without passing over into imitation. When the "Hermaphrodite"
was discovered in the vineyard of S. Celso, Ghiberti's admiration found
vent in exclamations like the following: "No tongue could describe the
learning and art displayed in it, or do justice to its masterly style."
Another antique, found near Florence, must, he conjectures, have been
hidden out of harm's way by "some gentle spirit in the early days of
Christianity." "The touch only," he adds, "can discover its beauties,
which escape the sense of sight in any light."[86] It would be impossible
to express a reverential love of ancient art more tenderly than is done in
these sentences. So intense was Ghiberti's passion for the Greeks, that he
rejected Christian chronology and reckoned by Olympiads--a system that has
thrown obscurity over his otherwise precious notes of Tuscan artists. In
spite of this devotion, he never appears to have set himself consciously
to reproduce the style of Greek sculpture, or to have set forth Hellenic
ideas. He remained unaffectedly natural, and in a true sense Christian.
The paganism of the Renaissance is a phrase with no more meaning for him
than for that still more delicate Florentine spirit, Luca della Robbia;
and if his works are classical, they are so only in Goethe's sense, when
he pronounced, "the point is for a work to be thoroughly good, and then it
is sure to be classical."

One great advantage of the early days of the Renaissance over the latter
was this, that pseudo-paganism and pedantry had not as yet distorted the
judgment or misdirected the aims of artists. Contact with the antique
world served only to stimulate original endeavour, by leading the student
back to the fountain of all excellence in nature, and by exhibiting types
of perfection in technical processes. To ape the sculptors of Antinous, or
to bring to life again the gods who died with Pan, was not yet longed for.
Of the impunity with which a sculptor in that period could submit his
genius to the service and the study of ancient art without sacrificing
individuality, Donatello furnishes a still more illustrious example than
Ghiberti. Early in his youth Donatello journeyed with Brunelleschi to
Rome, in order to acquaint himself with the monuments then extant. How
thoroughly he comprehended the classic spirit is proved by the bronze
patera wrought for his patron Ruberto Martelli, and by the frieze of the
triumphant Bacchus.[87] Yet the great achievements of his genius were
Christian in their sentiment and realistic in their style. The bronze
"Magdalen" of the Florentine Baptistery and the bronze "Baptist" of the
Duomo at Siena[88] are executed with an unrelenting materialism, not alien
indeed to the sincerity of classic art, but divergent from antique
tradition, inasmuch as the ideas of repentant and prophetic asceticism had
no place in Greek mythology.

Donatello, with the uncompromising candour of an artist bent on marking
character, felt that he was bound to seize the very pith and kernel of his
subject. If a Magdalen were demanded of him, he would not condescend to
model a Venus and then place a book and skull upon a rock beside her; nor
did he imagine that the bloom and beauty of a laughing Faun were fitting
attributes for the preacher of repentance. It remained for later artists,
intoxicated with antique loveliness and corroded with worldly scepticism,
to reproduce the outward semblance of Greek deities under the pretence of
setting forth the myths of Christianity. Such compromise had not occurred
to Donatello. The motive of his art was clearly apprehended, his method
was sincere; certain phases of profound emotion had to be represented with
the physical characteristics proper to them. The result, ugly and painful
as it may sometimes be, was really more concordant with the spirit of
Greek method than Lionardo's "John" or Correggio's "Magdalen." That is to
say, it was straightforward and truthful; whereas the strange caprices of
the later Renaissance too often betrayed a double mind, disloyal alike to
paganism and to Christianity, in their effort to combine divergent forces.
It may still be argued that such conceptions as sorrow for sin and
mortification of the flesh, unflinchingly portrayed by haggard gauntness
in the saints of Donatello, are unfit for sculpturesque expression.

A more felicitous embodiment of modern feeling was achieved by Donatello
in "S. George" and "David." The former is a marble statue placed upon the
north wall of Orsammichele; the latter is a bronze, cast for Cosimo de'
Medici, and now exhibited in the Bargello.[89] Without striving to
idealise his models, the sculptor has expressed in both the Christian
conception of heroism, fearless in the face of danger, and sustained by
faith. The naked beauty of the boy David and the mailed manhood of S.
George are raised to a spiritual region by the type of feature and the
pose of body selected to interpret their animating impulse. These are no
mere portraits of wrestlers, such, as peopled the groves of Altis at
Olympia, no ideals of physical strength translated into brass and marble,
like the "Hercules" of Naples or the Vatican. The one is a Christian
soldier ready to engage Apollyon in battle to the death; the other the
boy-hero of a marvellous romance. The body in both is but the shrine of an
indwelling soul, the instrument and agent of a faith-directed will; and
the crown of their conflict is no wreath of laurel or of parsley. In other
words, the value of S. George and David to the sculptor lay not in their
strength and youthful beauty--though he has endowed them with these
excellent gifts--so much as in their significance for the eternal struggle
of the soul with evil. The same power of expressing Christian sentiment in
a form of perfect beauty, transcending the Greek type by profounder
suggestion of feeling, is illustrated in the well-known low-relief of an
angel's head in profile, technically one of Donatello's most masterly

It is no part of my present purpose to enumerate the many works of
Donatello in marble and bronze; yet some allusion to their number and
variety is necessary in order to show how widely his influence was
diffused through Italy. In the monuments of Pope John XXIII., of Cardinal
Brancacci, and of Bartolommeo Aragazzi, he subordinated his genius to the
treatment of sepulchral and biographical subjects according to
time-honoured Tuscan usage. They were severally placed in Florence,
Naples, and Montepulciano. For the cathedral of Prato he executed
bas-reliefs of dancing boys; a similar series, intended for the
balustrades of the organ in S. Maria del Fiore, is now preserved in the
Bargello museum. The exultation of movement has never been expressed in
stone with more fidelity to the strict rules of plastic art. For his
friend and patron, Cosimo de' Medici, he cast in bronze the group of
"Judith and Holofernes"--a work that illustrates the clumsiness of
realistic treatment, and deserves to be remembered chiefly for its strange
fortunes. When the Medici fled from Florence in 1494, their palace was
sacked; the new republic took possession of Donatello's "Judith," and
placed it on a pedestal before the gate of the Palazzo Vecchio, with this
inscription, ominous to would-be despots: _Exemplum salutis publicae cives
posuere. MCCCCXCV_. It now stands near Cellini's "Perseus" under the
Loggia de' Lanzi. For the pulpits of S. Lorenzo, Donatello made designs of
intricate bronze bas-reliefs, which were afterwards completed by his pupil
Bertoldo. These, though better known to travellers, are less excellent
than the reliefs in bronze wrought by Donatello's own hand for the church
of S. Anthony at Padua.[91] To that city he was called in 1451, in order
that he might model the equestrian statue of Gattamelata. It still stands
on the Piazza, a masterpiece of scientific bronze-founding, the first
great portrait of a general on horseback since the days of Rome.[92] At
Padua, in the hall of the Palazzo della Ragione, is also preserved the
wooden horse, which is said to have been constructed by the sculptor for
the noble house of Capodilista. These two examples of equestrian modelling
marked an epoch in Italian statuary.

When Donato di Nicolo di Betto Bardi, called Donatello because men loved
his sweet and cheerful temper, died in 1466 at the age of eighty, the
brightest light of Italian sculpture in its most promising period was
extinguished. Donatello's influence, felt far and wide through Italy, was
of inestimable value in correcting the false direction toward pictorial
sculpture which Ghiberti, had he flourished alone at Florence, might have
given to the art. His style was always eminently masculine. However tastes
may differ about the positive merits of his several works, there can be no
doubt that the principles of sincerity, truth to nature, and technical
accuracy they illustrate, were all-important in an age that lent itself
too readily to the caprices of the fancy and the puerilities of florid
taste. To regret that Donatello lacked Ghiberti's exquisite sense of
beauty, is tantamount to wishing that two of the greatest artists of the
world had made one man between them.

Donatello did not, in the strict sense of the term, found a school.[93]
Andrea Verocchio, goldsmith, painter, and worker in bronze, was the most
distinguished of his pupils. To all the arts he practised, Verocchio
applied limited powers, a meagre manner, and a prosaic mind. Yet few men
have exercised at a very critical moment a more decided influence. The
mere fact that he numbered Lionardo da Vinci, Lorenzo di Credi, and Pietro
Perugino among his scholars, proves the esteem of his contemporaries; and
when we have observed that the type of face selected by Lionardo and
transmitted to his followers, appears also in the pictures of Lorenzo di
Credi and is first found in the "David" of Verocchio, we have a right to
affirm that the master of these men was an artist of creative genius as
well as a careful workman. Florence still points with pride to the
"Incredulity of Thomas" on the eastern wall of Orsammichele, to the "Boy
and Dolphin" in the court of the Palazzo Vecchio, and to the "David" of
this sculptor: but the first is spoiled by heaviness and angularity of
drapery; the second, though fanciful and marked by fluttering movement, is
but a caprice; the third outdoes the hardest work of Donatello by its
realism. Verocchio's "David," a lad of some seventeen years, has the lean,
veined arms of a stone-hewer or gold-beater. As a faithful portrait of the
first Florentine prentice who came to hand, this statue might have merit
but for the awkward cuirass and kilt that partly drape the figure.

The name of Verocchio is best known to the world through the equestrian
statue of Bartolommeo Colleoni. When this great Condottiere, the last
surviving general trained by Braccio da Montone, died in 1475, he
bequeathed a large portion of his wealth to Venice, on condition that his
statue on horseback should be erected in the Piazza di S. Marco. Colleoni,
having long held the baton of the Republic, desired that after death his
portrait, in his habit as he lived, should continue to look down on the
scene of his old splendour. By an ingenious quibble the Senators adhered
to the letter of his will without infringing a law that forbade them to
charge the square of S. Mark with monuments. They ruled that the piazza in
front of the Scuola di S. Marco, better known as the Campo di S. Zanipolo,
might be chosen as the site of Colleoni's statue, and to Andrea Verocchio
was given the commission for its erection.

Andrea died in 1488 before the model for the horse was finished. The work
was completed, and the pedestal was supplied by Alessandro Leopardi. To
Verocchio, profiting by the example of Donatello's "Gattamelata," must be
assigned the general conception of this statue; but the breath of life
that animates both horse and rider, the richness of detail that enhances
the massive grandeur of the group, and the fiery spirit of its style of
execution were due to the Venetian genius of Leopardi. Verocchio alone
produced nothing so truly magnificent. This joint creation of Florentine
science and Venetian fervour is one of the most precious monuments of the
Renaissance. From it we learn what the men who fought the bloodless
battles of the commonwealths, and who aspired to principality, were like.
"He was tall," writes a biographer of Colleoni,[94] "of erect and
well-knit figure, and of well-proportioned limbs. His complexion tended
rather to brown, marked withal by bright and sanguine flesh-tints. He had
black eyes; their brilliancy was vivid, their gaze terrible and
penetrating. In the outline of his nose and in all his features he
displayed a manly nobleness combined with goodness and prudence." Better
phrases cannot be chosen to describe his statue.

While admiring this masterpiece and dwelling on its royal style, we are
led to deplore most bitterly the loss of the third equestrian statue of
the Renaissance. Nothing now remains but a few technical studies made by
Lionardo da Vinci for his portrait of Francesco Sforza. The two elaborate
models he constructed and the majority of his minute designs have been
destroyed. He intended, we are told, to represent the first Duke of the
Sforza dynasty on his charger, trampling the body of a prostrate and just
conquered enemy. Rubens' transcript from the "Battle of the Standard,"
enables us to comprehend to some extent how Lionardo might have treated
this motive. The severe and cautious style of Donatello, after gaining
freedom and fervour from Leopardi, was adapted to the ideal presentation
of dramatic passion by Lionardo. Thus Gattamelata, Colleoni, and Francesco
Sforza would, through their statues, have marked three distinct phases in
the growth of art. The final effort of Italian sculpture to express human
activity in the person of a mounted warrior has perished. In this sphere
we possess nothing which, like the tombs of S. Lorenzo in relation to
sepulchral statuary, completes a series of development.

If Donatello founded no school, this was far more the case with Ghiberti.
His supposed pupil, Antonio del Pollajuolo, showed no sign of Ghiberti's
influence, but struck out for himself a style distinguished by almost
brutal energy and bizarre realism--characteristics the very opposite to
those of his master. If the bronze relief of the "Crucifixion" in the
Bargello be really Pollajuolo's, we may even trace a leaning to Verocchio
in his manner. The emphatic passion of the women recalls the group of
mourners round the death-bed of Selvaggia Tornabuoni in Verocchio's
celebrated bas-relief. Pollajuolo, like so many Florentine artists, was a
goldsmith, a painter, and a worker in niello, before he took to sculpture.
As a goldsmith he is said to have surpassed all his contemporaries, and
his mastery over this art influenced his style in general. What we chiefly
notice, however, in his choice of subjects is a frenzy of murderous
enthusiasm, a grimness of imagination, rare among Italian artists. The
picture in the Uffizzi of "Hercules and Antaeus" and the well-known
engraving of naked men fighting a series of savage duels in a wood, might
be chosen as emphatic illustrations of his favourite motives. The fiercest
emotions of the Renaissance find expression in the clenched teeth,
strained muscles, knotted brows, and tense nerves, depicted by Pollajuolo
with eccentric energy. We seem to be assisting at some of those combats _a
steccato chiuso_ wherein Sixtus IV. delighted, or to have before our eyes
a fray between Crocensi and Vallensi in the streets of Rome.[95] The same
remarks apply to the terra-cotta relief by Pollajuolo in the South
Kensington Museum. This piece displays the struggles of twelve naked men,
divided into six pairs of combatants. Two of the couples hold short chains
with the left hand, and seek to stab each other with the right. In the
case of another two couples the fight is over, and the victor is insulting
his fallen foe. In each of the remaining pairs one gladiator is on the
point of yielding to his adversary. There are thus three several moments
of duel to the death, each illustrated by two couples. The mathematical
distribution of these dreadful groups gives an effect of frozen passion;
while the vigorous workmanship displays not only an enthusiasm for
muscular anatomy, but a real sympathy with blood-fury in the artist.

There was, therefore, a certain propriety in the choice of Pollajuolo to
cast the sepulchre of Sixtus IV. in bronze at Rome. The best judges
complain, not without reason, that the allegories surrounding this tomb
are exaggerated and affected in style; yet the dead Pope, stretched in
pomp upon his bier, commands more than merely historical interest; while
the figures, seated as guardians round the old man, terrible in death,
communicate an impression of monumental majesty. Criticised in detail,
each separate figure may be faulty. The composition, as a whole, is
picturesque and grandiose. The same can scarcely be said about the tomb of
Innocent VIII., erected by Antonio and his brother Piero del Pollajuolo.
While it perpetuates the memory of an uninteresting Pontiff, it has but
little, as a work of art, to recommend it. The Pollajuoli were not great
sculptors. In the history of Italian art they deserve a place, because of
the vivid personality impressed upon some portions of their work. Few
draughtsmen carried the study of muscular anatomy so far as Antonio.[96]

Luca della Robbia, whose life embraced the first eighty years of the
fifteenth century, offers in many important respects a contrast to his
contemporaries Ghiberti and Donatello, and still more to their immediate
followers. He made his art as true to life as it is possible to be,
without the rugged realism of Donatello or the somewhat effeminate graces
of Ghiberti. The charm of his work is never impaired by scientific
mannerism--that stumbling-block to critics like De Stendhal in the art of
Florence; nor does it suffer from the picturesqueness of a sentimental
style. How to render the beauty of nature in her most delightful
moments--taking us with him into the holiest of holies, and handling the
sacred vessels with a child's confiding boldness--was a secret known to
Luca della Robbia alone. We may well find food for meditation in the
innocent and cheerful inspiration of this man, whose lifetime coincided
with a period of sordid passions and debased ambition in the Church and
States of Italy.

Luca was apprenticed in his youth to a goldsmith; but of what he wrought
before the age of forty-five, we know but little.[97] At that time his
faculty had attained full maturity, and he produced the groups of dancing
children and choristers intended for the organ gallery of the Duomo.
Wholly free from affectation, and depending for effect upon no merely
decorative detail, these bas-reliefs deserve the praise bestowed by Dante
on the sculpture seen in Purgatory:[98]--

Dinanzi a noi pareva si verace,
Quivi intagliato in un atto soave,
Che non sembrava immagine che tace.

Movement has never been suggested in stone with less exaggeration, nor
have marble lips been made to utter sweeter and more varied music. Luca's
true perception of the limits to be observed in sculpture, appears most
eminently in the glazed terra-cotta work by which he is best known. An
ordinary artist might have found the temptation to aim at showy and
pictorial effects in this material overwhelming. Luca restrained himself
to pure white on pale blue, and preserved an exquisite simplicity of line
in all his compositions. There is an almost unearthly beauty in the
profiles of his Madonnas, a tempered sweetness in the modulation of their
drapery and attitude, that prove complete mastery in the art of rendering
evanescent moments of expression, the most fragile subtleties of the
emotions that can stir a tranquil spirit. Andrea della Robbia, the nephew
of Luca, with his four sons, Giovanni, Luca, Ambrogio, and Girolamo,
continued to manufacture the glazed earthenware of Luca's invention. These
men, though excellent artificers, lacked the fine taste of their teacher.
Coarser colours were introduced; the eye was dazzled with variety; but the
power of speaking to the soul as Luca spoke was lost.[99]

After the Della Robbias, this is the place to mention Agostino di Gucci or
di Duccio,[100] a sculptor who handled terra-cotta somewhat in the manner
of Donatello's flat-relief, introducing more richness of detail and aiming
at more passion than Luca's taste permitted. For the oratory of S.
Bernardino at Perugia he designed the facade partly in stone and partly in
baked clay--crowded with figures, flying, singing, playing upon
instruments of music, with waving draperies and windy hair and the ecstasy
of movement in their delicately modelled limbs. If nothing else remained
of Agostino's workmanship, this facade alone would place him in the first
rank of contemporary artists. He owed something, perhaps, to his material;
for terra-cotta has the charm of improvisation. The hand, obedient to the
brain, has made it in one moment what it is, and no slow hours of labour
at the stone have dulled the first caprice of the creative fancy. Work,
therefore, which, if translated into marble, might have left our sympathy
unstirred, affects us with keen pleasure in the mould of plastic clay.
What prodigality of thought and invention has been lavished on the
terra-cotta models of unknown Italian artists! What forms and faces,
beautiful as shapes of dreams, and, like dreams, so airy that we think
they will take flight and vanish, lean to greet us from cloisters and
palace fronts in Lombardy! To catalogue their multitude would be
impossible. It is enough to select one instance out of many; this shall be
taken from the chapel of S. Peter Martyr in S. Eustorgio at Milan. High up
around the cupola runs a frieze of angels, singing together and dancing
with joined hands, while bells composed of fruits and flowers hang down
between them. Each angel is an individual shape of joy; the soul in each
moves to its own deep melody, but the music made of all is one. Their
raiment flutters, the bells chime; the chorus of their gladness falls like
voices through a star-lit heaven, half-heard in dreams and everlastingly

Four sculptors, the younger contemporaries of Luca della Robbia, and
marked by certain common qualities, demand attention next. All the work of
Antonio Rossellino, Matteo Civitali, Mino da Fiesole, and Benedetto da
Majano, is distinguished by sweetness, grace, tranquillity, and
self-restraint--as though these artists had voluntarily imposed limits on
their genius, refusing to trespass beyond a traced circle of religious
subjects, or to aim at effects unrealisable by purity of outline, suavity
of expression, delicacy of feeling, and urbanity of style. The charm of
manner they possess in common, can scarcely he defined except by similes.
The innocence of childhood, the melody of a lute or song-bird as
distinguished from the music of an orchestra, the rathe tints of early
dawn, cheerful light on shallow streams, the serenity of a simple and
untainted nature that has never known the world--many such images occur
to the mind while thinking of the sculpture of these men. To charge them
with insipidity, immaturity, and monotony, would be to mistake the force
of genius and skill displayed by them. We should rather assume that they
confined themselves to certain types of tranquil beauty, without caring to
realise more obviously striking effects, and that this was their way of
meeting the requirements of sculpture considered as a Christian art. The
melody of their design, meanwhile, is like the purest song-music of
Pergolese or Salvator Rosa, unapproachably perfect in simple outline, and
inexhaustibly refreshing.

Though it is possible to characterise the style of these sculptors by some
common qualities observable in their work, it should rather be the aim of
criticism to point out their differences. Antonio Rossellino, for example,
might be distinguished by his leaning toward the manner of Ghiberti, whose
landscape backgrounds he has adopted in the circular medallions of his
monumental sculpture. A fine perception of the poetic capabilities of
Christian art is displayed in Rossellino's idyllic treatment of the
Nativity--the adoration of the shepherds, the hush of reverential
stillness in the worship Mary pays her infant son.[101] To the qualities
of sweetness and tranquillity rare dignity is added in the monument of the
young Cardinal di Portogallo.[102] The sublimity of the slumber that is
death has never been more nobly and feelingly portrayed than in the supine
figure and sleeping features of this most beautiful young man, who lies
watched by angels beneath a heavy-curtained canopy. The genii of eternal
repose modelled by Greek sculptors are twin-brothers of Love, on whom
perpetual slumber has descended amid poppy-fields by Lethe's stream. The
turmoil of the world is over for them; they will never wake again; they do
not even dream. Sleep is the only power that still has life in them. But
the Christian cannot thus conceive the mystery of the soul "fallen on
sleep." His art must suggest a time of waiting and a time of waking; and
this it does partly through the ministration of attendant angels, who
would not be standing there on guard if the clay-cold corpse had no
futurity, partly by breathing upon the limbs and visage of the dead a
spirit as of life suspended for a while. Thus the soul herself is imaged
in the marble "most sweetly slumbering in the gates of dreams."

What Vespasiano tells us of this cardinal, born of the royal house of
Portugal, adds the virtue of sincerity to Rossellino's work, proving there
is no flattery of the dead man in his sculpture.[103] "Among his other
admirable virtues," says the biographer, "Messer Jacopo di Portogallo
determined to preserve his virginity, though he was beautiful above all
others of his age. Consequently he avoided all things that might prove
impediments to his vow, such as free discourse, the society of women,
balls, and songs. In this mortal flesh he lived as though he had been free
from it--the life, we may say, rather of an angel than a man. And if his
biography were written from his childhood to his death, it would be not
only an ensample, but confusion to the world. Upon his monument the hand
was modelled from his own, and the face is very like him, for he was most
lovely in his person, but still more in his soul."

While contemplating this monument of the young cardinal, we feel that the
Italians of that age understood sepulchral sculpture far better than their
immediate successors. They knew how to carve the very soul, according to
the lines which our Webster, a keen observer of all things relating to
the grave and death, has put into Jolenta's lips:--

But indeed,
If ever I would have mine drawn to the life,
I would have a painter steal it at such time
I were devoutly kneeling at my prayers;
There is then a heavenly beauty in't; _the soul
Moves in the superficies_.

The same Webster condemns that evil custom of aping life and movement on
the monuments of dead men, which began to obtain when the motives of pure
repose had been exhausted. "Why," asks the Duchess of Malfi, "do we grow
fantastical in our death-bed? Do we affect fashion in the grave?" "Most
ambitiously," answers Bosola; "princes' images on their tombs do not lie
as they were wont, seeming to pray up to heaven; but with their hands
under their cheeks (as if they died of the toothache): they are not carved
with their eyes fixed upon the stars; but, as their minds were wholly bent
upon the world, the self-same way they seem to turn their faces." A more
trenchant criticism than this could hardly have been pronounced upon
Andrea Contucci di Monte Sansavino's tombs of Ascanio Sforza and Girolamo
della Rovere, if Bosola had been standing before them in the church of S.
Maria del Popolo when he spoke. Were it the function of monumental
sculpture to satirise the dead, or to point out their characteristic
faults for the warning of posterity, then the sepulchres of these worldly
cardinals of Sixtus IV.'s creation would be artistically justified. But
the object of art is not this. The idea of death, as conceived by
Christians, has to be portrayed. The repose of the just, the resurrection
of the body, and the coming judgment, afford sufficient scope for
treatment of good men and bad alike. Or if the sculptor have sublime
imagination, he may, like Michael Angelo, suggest the alternations of the
day and night, slumber and waking, whereby "our little life is rounded
with a sleep."

This digression will hardly be thought superfluous when we reflect how
large a part of the sculptor's energy was spent on tombs in Italy. Matteo
Civitali of Lucca was at least Rossellino's equal in the sculpturesque
delineation of spiritual qualities; but the motives he chose for treatment
were more varied. All his work is penetrated with deep, prayerful, intense
feeling; as though the artist's soul, poured forth in ecstasy and
adoration, had been given to the marble. This is especially true of two
angels kneeling upon the altar of the Chapel of the Sacrament in Lucca
Cathedral. Civitali, by singular good fortune, was chosen in the best
years of his life to adorn the cathedral of his native city; and it is
here, rather than at Genoa, where much of his sculpture may also be seen,
that he deserves to be studied. For the people of Lucca he designed the
Chapel of the Santo Volto--a gem of the purest Renaissance
architecture--and a pulpit in the same style. His most remarkable
sculpture is to be found in three monuments: the tombs of Domenico Bertini
and Pietro da Noceto, and the altar of S. Regulus. The last might be
chosen as an epitome of all that is most characteristic in Tuscan
sculpture of the earlier Renaissance. It is built against the wall, and
architecturally designed so as to comprehend a full-length figure of the
bishop stretched upon his bier and watched by angels, a group of Madonna
and her child seated above him, a row of standing saints below, and a
predella composed of four delicately finished bas-reliefs. Every part of
this complex work is conceived with spirit and executed with care; and the
various elements are so combined as to make one composition, the body of
the saint on his sarcophagus forming the central object of the whole.

To do more than briefly mention the minor sculptors of this group would be
impossible. Mino di Giovanni, called Da Fiesole, was characterised by
grace that tended to degenerate into formality. The tombs in the Abbey of
Florence have an almost infantine sweetness of style, which might be
extremely piquant, were it not that Mino pushed this quality in other
works to the verge of mannerism.[104] Their architectural features are the
same as those of similar monuments in Tuscany:--a shallow recess, flanked
by Renaissance pilasters, and roofed with a semicircular arch; within the
recess, the full-length figure of the dead man on a marble coffin of
antique design; in the lunette above, a Madonna carved in low relief.[105]
Mino's bust of Bishop Salutati in the cathedral church of Fiesole is a
powerful portrait, no less distinguished for vigorous individuality than
consummate workmanship. The waxlike finish of the finely chiselled marble
alone betrays that delicacy which with Mino verged on insipidity. The same
faculty of character delineation is seen in three profiles, now in the
Bargello Museum, attributed to Mino. They represent Frederick Duke of
Urbino, Battista Sforza, and Galeazzo Sforza. The relief is very low,
rising at no point more than half an inch above the surface of the ground,
but so carefully modulated as to present a wonderful variety of light and
shade, and to render the facial expression with great vividness.

Desiderio da Settignano, one of Donatello's few scholars, was endowed with
the same gift of exquisite taste as his friend Mino da Fiesole;[106] but
his inventive faculty was bolder, and his genius more robust, in spite of
the profuse ornamentation and elaborate finish of his masterpiece, the
tomb of Carlo Marsuppini in S. Croce. The bust he made of Marietta di
Palla degli Strozzi enables us to compare his style in portraiture with
that of Mino.[107] It would be hard to find elsewhere a more captivating
combination of womanly sweetness and dignity. We feel, in looking at these
products of the best age of Italian sculpture, that the artists who
conceived them were, in the truest sense of the word, gentle. None but men
courteous and unaffected could have carved a face like that of Marietta
Strozzi, breathing the very spirit of urbanity. To express the most
amiable qualities of a living person in a work of art that should suggest
emotional tranquillity by harmonious treatment, and indicate the
temperance of a disciplined nature by self-restraint and moderation of
style, and to do this with the highest technical perfection, was the
triumph of fifteenth-century sculpture.

An artist who claims a third place beside Mino and his friend, "il bravo
Desider si dolce e bello,"[108] is Benedetto da Majano. In Benedetto's
bas-reliefs at San Gemignano, carved for the altars of those unlovely
Tuscan worthies, S. Fina and S. Bartolo, we find a pictorial treatment of
legendary subjects, proving that he had studied Ghirlandajo's frescoes.
The same is true about his pulpit in S. Croce at Florence, his treatment
of the story of S. Savino at Faenza, and his "Annunciation" in the church
of Monte Oliveto at Naples. Benedetto, indeed, may be said to illustrate
the working of Ghiberti's influence by his liberal use of landscape and
architectural backgrounds; but the style is rather Ghirlandajo's than
Ghiberti's. If it was a mistake in the sculptors of that period to
subordinate their art to painting, the error, we feel, was aggravated by
the imitation of a manner so prosaic as that of Ghirlandajo. That
Benedetto began life as a _tarsiatore_ may perhaps help to account for his
pictorial style in bas-relief.[109] In estimating his total claim as an
artist, we must not forget that he designed the formidable and splendid
Strozzi Palace.

It will be observed that all the sculptors hitherto mentioned have been
Tuscans; and this is due to no mere accident--nor yet to caprice on the
part of their historian. Though the other districts of Italy produced
admirable workmen, the direction given to this art proceeded from Tuscany.
Florence, the metropolis of modern culture, determined the course of the
aesthetical Renaissance. Even at Rimini we cannot account for the carvings
in low relief, so fanciful, so delicately wrought, and so profusely
scattered over the side chapels of S. Francesco, without the intervention
of two Florentines, Bernardo Ciuffagni and Donatello's pupil Simone; while
in the palace of Urbino we trace some hand not unlike that of Mino da
Fiesole at work upon the mouldings of door and architrave, cornice and
high-built chimney.[110] Not only do we thus find Tuscan craftsmen or
their scholars employed on all the great public buildings throughout
Italy; but it also happens that, except in Tuscany, the decoration of
churches and palaces is not unfrequently anonymous.

This does not, however, interfere with the truth that sculpture, like all
the arts, assumed a somewhat different character in each Italian city. The
Venetian stone-carvers leaned from the first to a richer and more
passionate style than the Florentine, reproducing the types of Cima's and
Bellini's paintings.[111] Whole families, like the Bregni--classes, like
the Lombardi--schools, like that of Alessandro Leopardi, worked together
on the monumental sculpture of S. Zanipolo. In the tombs of the Doges the
old Pisan motive of the curtains (first used by Arnolfo di Cambio at
Orvieto, and afterwards with grand effect by Giovanni Pisano at Perugia)
is expanded into a sumptuous tent-canopy. Pages and genii and mailed
heroes take the place of angels, and the marine details of Roman reliefs
are copied in the subordinate decoration. At Verona the mediaeval tombs of
the Scaligers, with their vast chest-like sarcophagi and mounted warriors,
exhibit features markedly different from the monuments of Tuscany; while
the mixture of fresco with sculpture, in monuments like that of the
Cavalli in S. Anastasia, and in many altar-pieces, is at variance with
Florentine usage. On the terra-cotta mouldings, so frequent in Lombard
cities, I have already had occasion to touch briefly. They almost
invariably display a feeling for beauty more sensuous, with less of
scientific purpose in their naturalism, than is common in the Tuscan
style. Guido Mazzoni of Modena, called Il Modanino, may be mentioned as
the sculptor who freed terra-cotta from its dependence upon architecture,
and who modelled groups of overpowering dramatic realism. His "Pieta," in
the Church of Monte Oliveto at Naples, is valuable, less for its
passionate intensity of expression than for the portraits of Pontano,
Sannazzaro, and Alfonso of Aragon.[112] This sub-species of sculpture was
freely employed in North Italy to stimulate devotion, and to impress the
people with lively pictures of the Passion. The Sacro Monte at Varallo,
for example, is covered with a multitude of chapels, each one of which
presents some chapter of Bible history dramatically rendered by life-size
groups of terra-cotta figures. Some of these were designed by eminent
painters, and executed by clever modellers in clay. Even now they are
scarcely less stirring to the mind of a devout spectator than the scenes
of a mediaeval Mystery may have been.

The Certosa of Pavia, lastly, is the centre of a school of sculpture that
has little in common with the Florentine tradition. Antonio Amadeo[113]
and Andrea Fusina, acting in concert with Ambrogio Borgognone the
painter, gave it in the fifteenth century that character of rich and
complex decorative beauty which many generations of artists were destined
to continue and complete. Among the countless sculptors employed upon its
marvellous facade Amadeo asserts an individuality above the rest, which is
further manifested in his work in the Cappella Colleoni at Bergamo. We
there learn to know him, not only as an enthusiastic cultivator of the
mingled Christian and pagan manner of the _quattrocento_, but as an artist
in the truest sense of the word sympathetic. The sepulchral portrait of
Medea, daughter of the great Condottiere, has a grace almost beyond that
of Della Quercia's "Ilaria."[114] Much, no doubt, is due to the peculiarly
fragile beauty of the girl herself, who lies asleep with little crisp
curls clustering upon her forehead, and with a string of pearls around her
slender throat. But the sensibility to loveliness so delicate, and the
power to render it in marble with so ethereal a touch upon the rigid
stone, belong to the sculptor, and win for him our worship.

The list of fifteenth-century sculptors is almost ended; and already, on
the threshold of the sixteenth, stands the mighty form of Michael Angelo.
Andrea Contucci da Sansavino and his pupil Jacopo Tatti, called also
Sansovino, after his master, must, however, next be mentioned as
continuing the Florentine tradition without subservience to the style of
Buonarroti. Andrea da Sansavino was a sculptor in whom for the first time
the faults of the mid-Renaissance period are glaringly apparent. He
persistently sacrificed simplicity of composition to decorative
ostentation, and tranquillity of feeling to theatrical effect. The truth
of this will be acknowledged by all who have studied the tombs of the
cardinals in S. Maria del Popolo already mentioned,[115] and the
bas-reliefs upon the Santa Casa at Loreto. In technical workmanship Andrea
proved himself an able craftsman, modelling marble with the plasticity of
wax, and lavishing patterns of the most refined invention. Yet the
decorative prodigality of this master corresponded to the frigid and
stylistic graces of the neo-Latin poets. It was so much mannerism--adopted
without real passion from the antique, and applied with a rhetorical
intention. Those acanthus scrolls and honeysuckle borders, in spite of
their consummate finish, fail to arrest attention, leaving the soul as
unstirred as the Ovidian cadences of Bembo.

Jacopo Tatti was a genius of more distinction. Together with San Gallo and
Bramante he studied the science of architecture in Rome, where he also
worked at the restoration of newly discovered antiques, and cast in bronze
a copy of the "Laocoon." Thus equipped with the artistic learning of his
age, he was called in 1523 by the Doge, Andrea Gritti, to Venice. The
material pomp of Venice at this epoch, and the pride of her unrivalled
luxury, affected his imagination so powerfully that his genius, tutored by
Florentine and Umbrian masters among the ruins of old Rome, became at once
Venetian. In the history of the Renaissance the names of Titian and
Aretino, themselves acclimatised aliens, are inseparably connected with
that of their friend Sansovino. At Venice he lived until his death in
1570, building the Zecca, the Library, the Scala d'Oro in the Ducal
Palace, and the Loggietta beneath the bell-tower of S. Mark. In all his
work he subordinated sculpture to architecture, and his statuary is
conceived in the _bravura_, manner of Renaissance paganism. Whatever may
be the faults of Sansovino in both arts, it cannot be denied that he
expressed, in a style peculiar to himself, the large voluptuous external
life of Venice at a moment when this city was the Paris or the Corinth of
Renaissance Europe. At the same time, the shallowness of Sansovino's
inspiration as a sculptor is patent in his masterpieces of parade--the
"Neptune" and the "Mars," guarding the Scala d'Oro. Separated from the
architecture of the court and staircase, they are insignificant in spite
of their colossal scale. In their place they add a haughty grandeur, by
the contrast which their flowing forms and arrogant attitudes present to
the severer lines of the construction. But they are devoid of artistic
sincerity, and occupy the same relation to true sculpture as flourishes of
rhetoric, however brilliant, to poetry embodying deep thought or passion.
At first sight they impose: on further acquaintance we find them chiefly
interesting as illustrations of a potent civic life upon the wane,
gorgeous in its decay.

Sansovino was a first-rate craftsman. The most finished specimen of his
skill is the bronze door of the Sacristy of S. Marco, upon which he is
said to have worked through twenty years. Portraits of the sculptor,
Titian, and Pietro Aretino are introduced into the decorative border.
These heads start from the surface of the gate with astonishing vivacity.
That Aretino should thus daily assist in effigy at the procession of
priests bearing the sacred emblems from the sacristy to the high altar of
S. Mark, is one of the most characteristic proofs of sixteenth-century
indifference to things holy and things profane.

Jacopo Sansovino marks the final intrusion of paganism into modern art.
The classical revival had worked but partially and indirectly upon
Ghiberti and Donatello--not because they did not feel it most intensely,
but because they clung to nature far more closely than to antique
precedent. This enthusiasm inspired Sansovino with the best and strongest
qualities that he can boast; and if his genius had been powerful enough to
resist the fascination of merely rhetorical effects, he might have
produced a perfect restoration of the classic style. His was no lifeless
or pedantic imitation of antique fragments, but a real expression of the
fervour with which the modern world hailed the discoveries revealed to it
by scholarship. This is said advisedly. The most beautiful and spirited
pagan statue of the Renaissance period, justifying the estimate here made
of Sansovino's genius, is the "Bacchus" exhibited in the Bargello Museum.
Both the Bacchus and the Satyriscus at his side are triumphs of realism,
irradiated and idealised by the sculptor's vivid sense of natural
gladness. Considered as a restitution of the antique manner, this statue
is decidedly superior to the "Bacchus" of Michael Angelo. While the
mundane splendour of Venice gave body and fulness to Sansovino's paganism,
he missed the self-restraint and purity of taste peculiar to the studious
shades of Florence. In his style, both architectural and sculptural, the
neo-pagan sensuality of Italy expanded all its bloom.

For the artist at this period a Greek myth and a Christian legend were all
one. Both afforded the occasion for displaying technical skill in fluent
forms, devoid of any but voluptuous feeling; while both might be
subordinated to rich effects of decoration.[116] To this point the
intellectual culture of the fifteenth century had brought the plastic arts
of Italy, by a process similar to that which ended in the "Partus
Virginis" of Sannazzaro. They were still indisputably vigorous, and
working in accordance with the movement of the modern spirit. Yet the
synthesis they attempted to effect between heathenism and Christianity, by
a sheer effort of style, and by indifferentism, strikes us from the point
of view of art alone, not reckoning religion or morality, as
unsuccessful. Still, if it be childish on the one hand to deplore that the
Christian earnestness of the earlier masters had failed, it would be even
more ridiculous to complain that paganism had not been more entirely
recovered. The double-mind of the Renaissance, the source of its weakness
in art as in thought, could not be avoided, because humanity at this
moment had to lose the mediaeval sincerity of faith, and to assimilate the
spirit of a bygone civilisation. This, for better or for worse, was the
phase through which the intellect of modern Europe was obliged to pass;
and those who have confidence in the destinies of the human race, will not
spend their strength in moaning over such shortcomings as the periods of
transition bring inevitably with them. The student of Italian history may
indeed more reasonably be allowed to question whether the arts, if left to
follow their own development unchecked, might not have recovered from the
confusion of the Renaissance and have entered on a stage of nobler
activity through earnest and unaffected study of nature. But the
enslavement of the country, together with the counter-Reformation,
suspended the Renaissance in mid-career; and what remains of Italian art
is incomplete. Besides, it must be borne in mind that the confusion of
opinions consequent upon the clash of the modern with the ancient world,
left no body of generally accepted beliefs to express; nor has the time
even yet arrived for a settlement and synthesis that shall be favourable
to the activity of the figurative arts.

Sansovino himself was neither original nor powerful enough, to elevate the
mixed motives of Renaissance sculpture by any lofty idealisation. To do
that remained for Michael Angelo. The greatness of Michael Angelo consists
in this--that while literature was sinking into the frivolity of Academies
and the filth of the Bernesque "Capitoli," while the barefaced villanies
of Aretino won him credit, while sensual magnificence formed the ideal of
artists who were neither Greeks nor Christians, while Ariosto found no
subject fitter for his genius than a glittering romance, he and he alone
maintained the Dantesque dignity of the Italian intellect in his
sculpture. Michael Angelo stands so far apart from other men, and is so
gigantic a force for good and evil in the history of art, that to estimate
his life and labour in relation to the Renaissance must form the subject
of a separate chapter. For the present it is enough to observe that his
immediate scholars, Raffaello da Montelupo, and Gian Angelo Montorsoli,
caught little from their master but the mannerism of contorted form and
agitated action. This mannerism, a blemish even in the strong work of
Buonarroti, became ridiculous when adopted by men of feeble powers and
passionless imagination. By straining the art of sculpture to its utmost
limits, Michael Angelo expressed vehement emotions in marble; and the
forced attitudes affected in his work had their value as significant of
spiritual struggle. His imitators showed none of their master's sublime
force, none of that _terribilita_ which made him unapproachable in social
intercourse and inimitable in art. They merely fancied that dignity and
beauty were to be achieved by placing figures in difficult postures,
exaggerated muscular anatomy, and twisting the limbs of their models upon
sections of ellipses in uncomfortable attitudes, till the whole of their
work was writhen into uncouth lines. Buonarroti himself was not
responsible for these results. He wrought out his own ideal with the
firmness of a genius that obeys the law of its own nature, doing always
what it must. That the decadence of sculpture into truculent bravado was
independent of his direct influence, is further proved by the inefficiency
of his contemporaries.

Baccio Bandinelli and Bartolommeo Ammanati filled the squares of the
Italian cities with statues of Hercules and Satyrs, Neptune and
River-gods. We know not whether to select the vulgarity, the feebleness,
or the pretentiousness of these pseudo-classical colossi for condemnation.
They have nothing Greek about them but their names, their nakedness, and
their association with myths, the significance whereof was never really
felt by the sculptors. Some of Bandinelli's designs, it is true, are
vigorous; but they are mere drawings from undraped peasants, life studies
depicting the human animal. His "Hercules and Cacus," while it deserves
all the sarcasm hurled at it by Cellini, proves that Bandinelli could not
rise above the wrestling bout of a porter and a coal-heaver. Nor would it
be possible to invent a motive less in accordance with Greek taste than
the conceit of Ammanati's fountain at Castello, where Hercules by
squeezing the body of Antaeus makes the drinking water of a city spout
from a giant's mouth. Such pitiful misapplications of an art which is
designed to elevate the commonplace of human form, and to render permanent
the nobler qualities of physical existence, show how superficially and
wrongly the antique spirit had been apprehended.

Some years before his death Ammanati expressed in public his regret that
he had made so many giants and satyrs, feeling that, by exhibiting forms
of lust, brutality, and animalism to the gaze of his fellow-countrymen, he
had sinned against the higher law revealed by Christianity. For a Greek
artist to have spoken thus would have been impossible. The Faun, the
Titan, and the Satyr had a meaning for him, which he sought to set forth
in accordance with the semi-religious, semi-poetical traditions of his
race; and when he was at work upon a myth of nature-forces, he well knew
that at the other end of the scale, separated by no spiritual barrier, but
removed to an almost infinite distance of refinement, Zeus, Phoebus, and
Pallas claimed his loftier artistic inspiration. Ammanati's confession, on
the contrary, betrays that schism between the conscience of Christianity
and the lusts let loose by ill-assimilated sympathy with antique
heathenism, which was a marked characteristic of the Renaissance. The


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