Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Fra Bartolommeo by Leader Scott (Re-Edited By Horace Shipp And Flora Kendrick)

Part 1 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Produced by Michelle Shephard, Tiffany Vergon, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team


Leader Scott

Author Of "A Nook In The Apennines"

Re-Edited By
Horace Shipp And Flora Kendrick, A.R.B.S.

_The reproductions in this series are from official photographs of
the National Collections, or from photographs by Messrs. Andersen,
Alinari or Braun._


Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael: the three great names of the noblest
period of the Renaissance take our minds from the host of fine artists
who worked alongside them. Nevertheless beside these giants a whole
host of exquisite artists have place, and not least among them the
three painters with whom Mr. Leader Scott has dealt in these pages. Fra
Bartolommeo linking up with the religious art of the preceding period,
with that of Masaccio, of Piero de Cosimo, his senior student in the
studio of Cosimo Roselli, and at last with that of the definitely
"modern" painters of the Renaissance, Raphael, Leonardo and
Michelangelo himself, is a transition painter in this supreme period.
Technique and the work of hand and brain are rapidly taking the place
of inspiration and the desire to convey a message. The aesthetic
sensation is becoming an end in itself. The scientific painters,
perfecting their studies of anatomy and of perspective, having a
conscious mastery over their tools and their mediums, are taking the
place of such men as Fra Angelico.

As a painter at this end of a period of transition--a painter whose
spiritual leanings would undoubtedly have been with the earlier men,
but whose period was too strong for him--Fra Bartolommeo is of
particular interest; and Albertinelli, for all the fiery surface
difference of his outlook is too closely bound by the ties of his
friendship for the Frate to have any other viewpoint.

Andrea del Sarto presents yet another phenomenon: that of the artist
endowed with all the powers of craftsmanship yet serving an end neither
basically spiritual nor basically aesthetic, but definitely
professional. We have George Vasari's word for it; and Vasari's blame
upon the extravagant and too-well-beloved Lucrezia. To-day we are so
accustomed to the idea of the professional attitude to art that we can
accept it in Andrea without concern. Not that other and earlier artists
were unconcerned with the aspect of payments. The history of Italian
art is full of quarrels and bickerings about prices, the calling in of
referees to decide between patron and painter, demands and refusals of
payment. Even the unworldly Fra Bartolommeo was the centre of such
quarrels, and although his vow of poverty forbade him to receive money
for his work, the order to which he belonged stood out firmly for the
_scudi_ which the Frate's pictures brought them. In justice to
Andrea it must be added that this was not the only motive for his
activities; it was not without cause that the men of his time called
him "_senza errori_," the faultless painter; and the production of
a vast quantity of his work rather than good prices for individual
pictures made his art pay to the extent it did. A pot-boiler in
masterpieces, his works have place in every gallery of importance, and
he himself stands very close to the three greatest; men of the

Both Fra Bartolommeo and Albertinelli are little known in this country.
Practically nothing has been written about them and very few of their
works are in either public galleries or private collections. It is in
Italy, of course, that one must study their originals, although the
great collections usually include one or two. Most interesting from the
viewpoint of the study of art is the evolution of the work of the
artist-monk as he came under the influence of the more dramatic modern
and frankly sensational work of Raphael, of the Venetians and of
Michelangelo. In this case (many will say in that of the art of the
world) this tendency detracted rather than helped the work. The
draperies, the dramatic poses, the artistic sensation arrests the mind
at the surface of the picture. It is indeed strange that this devout
churchman should have succumbed to the temptation, and there are
moments when one suspects that his somewhat spectacular pietism
disguised the spirit of one whose mind had little to do with the
mysticism of the mediaeval church. Or perhaps it was that the strange
friendship between him and Albertinelli, the man of the cloister and
the man of the world, effected some alchemy in the mind of each. The
story of that lifelong friendship, strong enough to overcome the
difficulties of a definite partnership between the strict life of the
monastery and the busy life of the _bottega_, is one of the most
fascinating in art history.

Mr. Leader Scott has in all three lives the opportunity for fascinating
studies, and his book presents them to us with much of the flavour of
the period in which they lived. Perhaps to-day we should incline to
modify his acceptance of the Vasari attitude to Lucrezia, especially
since he himself tends to withdraw the charges against her, but leaves
her as the villainess of the piece upon very little evidence. The
inclusion of a chapter upon Ghirlandajo, treated merely as a follower
of Fra Bartolommeo, scarcely does justice in modern eyes to this fine
artist, whose own day and generation did him such honour and paid him
so well. But the author's general conclusions as to the place in art
and the significance of the lives of the three painters with whom he is
chiefly concerned remains unchallenged, and we have in the volume a
necessary study to place alongside those of Leonardo, of Michelangelo
and of Raphael for an understanding of the culmination of the
Renaissance in Italy.





IV. SAN MARCO. A.D. 1496-1500
VIII. CLOSE OF LIFE. A.D. 1514-1517


V. GOING TO FRANCE. A.D. 1518-1519







It seems to be a law of nature that progress, as well as time, should
be marked by periods of alternate light and darkness--day and night.

This law is nowhere more apparent than in the history of Art. Three
times has the world been illuminated by the full brilliance of Art, and
three times has a corresponding period of darkness ensued.

The first day dawned in Egypt and Assyria, and its works lie buried in
the tombs of prehistoric Pharaohs and Ninevite kings. The second day
the sun rose on the shores of many-isled Greece, and shed its rays over
Etruria and Rome, and ere it set, temples and palaces were flooded with
beauty. The gods had taken human form, and were come to dwell with men.

The third day arising in Italy, lit up the whole western world with the
glow of colour and fervour, and its fading rays light us yet.

The first period was that of mythic art; the world like a child
wondering at all around tried to express in myths the truths it could
not comprehend.

The second was pagan art which satisfies itself that in expressing the
perfection of humanity, it unfolds divinity. The third era of Christian
art, conscious that the divine lies beyond the human, fails in aspiring
to express infinitude.

Tracing one of these periods from its rise, how truly this similitude
of the dawn of day is carried out. See at the first streak of light how
dim, stiff, and soulless all things appear! Trees and objects bear
precisely the relation to their own appearance in broad daylight as the
wooden Madonnas of the Byzantine school do to those of Raphael.

Next, when the sun--the true light--first appears, how it bathes the
sea and the hills in an ethereal glory not their own! What fair liquid
tints of blue, and rose, and glorious gold! This period which, in art,
began with Giotto and ended with Botticelli, culminated in Fra
Angelico, who flooded the world of painting with a heavenly
spiritualism not material, and gave his dreams of heaven the colours of
the first pure rays of sunshine.

But as the sun rises, nature takes her real tints gradually. We see
every thing in its own colour; the gold and the rose has faded away
with the truer light, and a stern realism takes its place. The human
form must be expressed, in all its solidity and truth, not only in its
outward semblance, but the hidden soul must be seen through the veil of
flesh. And in this lies the reason of the decline; only to a few great
masters it was given to reveal spirituality in humanity--the others
could only emulate form and colour, and failed.

It is impossible to contemplate art apart from religion; as truly as
the celestial sun is the revealer of form, so surely is the heavenly
light of religion the first inspirer of art.

Where would the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Etruscan paintings and
sculptures have been but for the veneration of the mystic gods of the
dead, which both prompted and preserved them?

What would Greek sculpture have been without the deified
personifications of the mysterious powers of nature which inspired it?
and it is the fact of the pagan religion being both sensuous and
realistic which explains the perfection of Greek art. The highest ideal
being so low as not to soar beyond the greatest perfection of humanity,
was thus within the grasp of the artist to express. Given a manly
figure with the fullest development of strength; a female one showing
the greatest perfection of form; and a noble man whose features express
dignity and mental power;--the ideal of a Hercules, a Venus, and a
Jupiter is fully expressed, and the pagan mind satisfied. The spirit of
admirers was moved more by beauty of form than by its hidden
significance. In the great Venus, one recognises the woman before
feeling the goddess.

As with their sculpture, without doubt it was also with painting. Mr.
Symonds, in his _Renaissance of the Fine Arts_, speaks of the
Greek revival as entirely an age of sculpture; but the solitary glance
into the more perishable art of painting among the Greeks, to be seen
at Cortona, reveals the exquisite perfection to which this branch was
also brought. It is a painting in encaustic, and has been used as a
door for his oven by the contadino who dug it up--yet it remains a
marvel of genius. The subject is a female head--a muse, or perhaps only
a portrait; the delicacy and mellowness of the flesh tints equal those
of Raphael or Leonardo, and a lock of hair lying across her breast is
so exquisitely painted that it seems to move with her breath. The
features are of the large-eyed regular Greek type, womanly dignity is
in every line, but it is an essentially pagan face--the Christian soul
has never dawned in those eyes! With this before us, we cannot doubt
that Greek art found its expression as much in colour as in form and
that the same religion inspired both.

In an equal degree Renaissance Art has its roots in Christianity; but
the religion is deeper and greater, and has left art behind.

The early Christians must have felt this when they expressed everything
in symbols, for these are merely suggestive, and allow the imagination
full play around and beyond them; they are mere stepping-stones to the
ideal which exists but is as yet inexpressible.

"Myths and symbols always mark the dawn of a religion, incarnation and
realism its full growth." So after a time when the first vague wonder
and ecstasy are over, symbols no longer content people; they want to
bring religion home to them in a more tangible form, to humanize it, in
fact. From this want it arises that nature next to religion inspires
art, and finally takes its place. For it follows as a matter of course
that as art is a realistic interpreter of the spiritual, so it is more
easy to follow nature than spirituality, nature being the outward or
realistic expression of the mind of God.

It was a saying of Buffalmacco, who was _not_ one of the most
devout painters of the fourteenth century, "Do not let us think of
anything but to cover our walls with saints, and out of disrespect to
the demons to make men more devout." And Savonarola, though he has been
accused of being one of the causes of the decline, thus upheld the
sacred influences of art; when he exclaimed in one of his fervent
bursts of eloquence, "You see that Saint there in the Church and say,
'I will live a good life and be like him.'" If these were the feelings
of the least devout and the religious fanatic, how hallowed must the
influences of Christian painting have been to the intermediate ranks.
Mr. Symonds beautifully expresses the tendency of that time: "The eyes
of the worshipper should no longer have a mere stock or stone to
contemplate; his imagination should be helped by the dogmatic
presentation of the scenes of sacred history, and his devotion
quickened by lively images of the passion of our Lord.... The body and
soul moreover should be reconciled, and God's likeness should be once
more acknowledged in the features and limbs of men." [Footnote:
Symonds' _Renaissance of the Fine Arts_, chap. i. p. 11.]

The school of Giotto was the first to feel this need of the soul. He,
taking his ideas from nature, clothed the soul in a thin veil; the
Italians call his school that of poetic art; it reached sentiment and
poetry, but did not pass them. Yet the thirteenth century was sublime
for the expression of the idea; one only has to study the intense
meaning in the works of Giotto, and Orcagna, Duccio, and the Lorenzetti
of Siena to perceive this. The fourteenth century, on the contrary,
rendered itself glorious for manifestation of form. "Artists thought
the veil of ideality a poor thing, and wished to give the solidity of
the body to the soul; they stole every secret from nature; the senses
were content, but not sentiment." [Footnote: _Purismo nell' Arte_,
da Cesare Guasti.]

The artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, of whom we have
to speak, blended the two schools, and became perfection as far as they
went. Michelangelo drew more from the vigorous thirteenth-century
masters, and Raphael from the more sensuous followers of Masaccio and
Lippi. The former tried to put the Christian soul into his works, but
its infinite depth was unattainable. As his many unfinished works
prove, he always felt some great overwhelming meaning in his inmost
soul, which all his passionate artistic yearnings were inadequate to
express. Raphael tried to bring realism into religion through painting,
and to give us the scenes of our Lord's and the Apostles' lives in such
a humanized aspect, that we should feel ourselves of his nature. But
the incarnation of religion in art defeated its own ends; sensuousness
was introduced in place of the calm, unearthly spirituality of the
earlier masters. Compare the cartoon of S. Paul preaching at Athens, in
which he has all the majesty of a Casar in the Forum, with the lowly
spirit of the Apostle's life! In truth, Raphael failed to approach
nearer to sublimity than Fra Angelico, with all his faulty drawing but
pure spirit.

After him, artists loved form and colour for themselves rather than for
the spiritual meaning. Miss Owen [Footnote: _Art Schools of Medieval
Christendom_, edited by Ruskin.] accuses Raphael of having rendered
Art pagan, but this seems blaming him for the weakness of his
followers, who took for their type his works rather than his ideal. The
causes of the decline were many, and are not centred in one man. As
long as Religion slumbered in monasticism and dogma, Art seizing on the
human parts, such as the maternity of the Madonna, the personifications
of saints who had lived in the world, was its adequate exponent. The
religion awakened by the aesthetic S. Francis, who loved all kinds of
beauty, was of the kind to be fed by pictures. But when Savonarola had
aroused the fervour of the nation to its highest point, when beauty was
nothing, the world nothing, in comparison to the infinity of God;--then
art, finding itself powerless to express this overwhelming infinity,
fell back on more earthly founts of inspiration, the classics and the

Lorenzo de' Medici and Pope Nicholas V. had fully as much to do with
the decline as Savonarola. The Pope in Rome, and Lorenzo in Florence,
led art to the verge of paganism; Savonarola would have kept it on the
confines of purism; it was divided and fell, passing through the
various steps of decadence, the mannerists and the eclectics, to rise
again in this nineteenth century with what is after all its true aim,
the interpretation of nature, and the illustration of the poetry of a

But with the decadence we have happily nothing to do; the artists of
whom we speak first, Fra Bartolommeo and Albertinelli, belong to the
culmination of art on its rising side, while Andrea del Sarto stands as
near to the greatest artists on the other side, and is the last of the
group before the decline. On Fra Bartolommeo the spirituality of Fra
Angelico still lingered, while the perfection of Raphael illumined him.
Andrea del Sarto, on the other side, had gathered into his hands the
gleams of genius from all the great artists who were his elder
contemporaries, and so blending them as to form seemingly a style of
his own, distinct from any, has left on our walls and in our galleries
hundreds of masterpieces of colour, as gay and varied as the tints the
orientals weave into their wondrous fabrics.

It might be said with truth that Fra Bartolommeo painted for the soul,
and Andrea del Sarto for the eye.


A.D. 1475-1486.

Amongst the thousand arteries in which the life blood of the
Renaissance coursed in all its fulness, none were so busy or so
important as the "botteghe" of the artists. In these the genius of the
great masters, the Pleiades of stars at the culmination of art in
Florence, was either tenderly nursed, or sharply pruned into vigour by
struggling against discouragement and envy. In these the spirit of
awakened devotion found an outlet, in altarpieces and designs for
church frescoes which were to influence thousands. Here the spirit of
poetry, brooding in the mysterious lines of Dante, or echoing from past
ages in the myths of the Greeks, took form and glowed on the walls in
mighty cartoons to be made imperishable in fresco. Here the spirit of
luxury was satisfied by beautiful designs for ornaments, dress stuffs,
tapestries, vases and "cassoni," &c., which brought beauty into every
life, and made each house a poem. The soul, the mind, and the body,
could alike be supplied at those fountains of the beautiful, the artshops
or schools.

Whilst Michelangelo as a youth was drawing from the cartoons of the
Sassetti chapel in the school of Domenico Ghirlandajo, Cosimo Roselli
was just receiving as a pupil a boy only a little behind him in genius.
A small, delicate-faced, spiritual-eyed boy of nine years, known as
Baccio della Porta, who came with a roll of drawings under his arm and
high hopes in his soul, no doubt trotting along manfully beside
Cosimo's old friend, Benedetto da Majano, the sculptor, who had
recommended his being placed in the studio.

By the table given in the note [Footnote: Pietro, a Genoese, came in
1400 to the parish of S. Michele, at Montecuccioli in Mugello; he was a
peasant, and had a son Jacopo, who was father of Paolo, the muleteer;
and three other sons, Bartolo, Giusto, and Jacopo, who had a
_podere_ at Soffignano, near Prato. Paolo married first Bartolommea,
daughter of Zanobi di Gallone, by whom he had a son, Bartolommeo, known
as Baccio della Porta, born 1475. The first wife dying, Paolo married
Andrea di Michaele di Cenni, who had four sons, Piero, Domenico,
Michele, and Francesco; only Piero lived to grow up, and he became a
priest. [_Favoured by Sig. Milanesi._]] it will be seen that Baccio was
the son of Paolo, a muleteer, which no doubt was a profitable trade in
those days when the country roads were mere mule-tracks, and the traffic
between different towns was carried on almost entirely by horses and
mulepacks. There is some doubt as to the place of Baccio's birth, which
occurred in 1475. Vasari gives it as Savignano near Prato; Crowe and
Cavalcaselle [Footnote: Vol. iii. chap. xiii. p. 427.] assert it was
Suffignano, near Florence, where they say Paolo's brothers, Jacopo and
Giusto, were contadini or peasants.

But on consulting the post-office authorities we find no place called
Suffignano near Florence; it must therefore have been a village near
Prato called Soffignano, which from similarity of sound Vasari confused
with the larger place, Savignano. This is the more probable, for Rosini
asserts that "Benedetto da Majano, _who had bought a podere near
Prato_, knew him and took him into his affections, and by his means
placed him with Cosimo." [Footnote: Rosini, _Storia della
Pittura_, chap. xvii. p. 47.]

It is certainly probable that Paolo's wife lived with his family during
his wanderings, because it is the true Italian custom, and Baccio was
in that case born in his uncle's house; for it is not till 1480 that we
find Paolo retired from trade and set up in a house of his own in
Florence at the gate of S. Pier Gattolini, now the Porta Romana.

The friendship begun at Prato must have been continued in Florence, for
in 1480 Paolo not only owned that house at the gate of S. Pier
Gattolini, but was the proud possessor of a podere at Brozzi, which
yielded six barrels of wine. He is a merciful man too, for among his
possessions are two mules _disutili e vecchi_ (old and useless).
At this time Baccio was six years old, and his three stepbrothers quite
babies. [Footnote: Archives of Florence, Portate al Castato, 1480-1.]
Paolo, as well as his mules, had earned his repose, being certainly
old, if not useless, and was anxious for his little sons to be placed
out in the world as early as possible. Thus it came that in 1484 Baccio
was taken away from his brothers, who played under the shadow of the
old gateway, and was put to do the drudgery of the apprenticeship to
art. He had to grind colours for Cosimo--who, as we know, used a great
deal of colour, having dazzled the eyes of the Pope with the brilliancy
of his blue and gold in the Sistine Chapel some years before--he had to
sweep out the studio, no doubt assisted by Mariotto Albertinelli, a boy
of his own age, and to run errands, carrying designs for inspection to
expectant brides who wanted the chests painted to hold their wedding
clothes, or doing the messenger between his master and the nuns of S.
Ambrogio, who paid Cosimo their gold florins by the hand of the boy in
1484 and 1485. [Footnote: Note to Crowe and Cavalcaselle, vol. iii.
chap. xiii. p. 429.]

Whether his age made him a more acceptable means of communication with
the nuns, or whether Pier di Cosimo, the elder pupil, already displayed
his hatred of womankind, I know not; perhaps the boy already showed
that innate devotion and especial fitness for sanctity which marks his
entire art career. Truly everything in his youthful life combined to
lead his thoughts to higher things. The first fresco at which he
assisted was in this solemn cloister of St. Ambrogio, and the subject
the _Miracle of the Sacrament_; the saintly air of the place, the
calm faces of the white-hooded nuns, must all have had an influence in
inspiring his youthful mind with the spirit of devotion.

Baccio's fellow-students were not many, but they formed an interesting
group. Pier di Cosimo was the head man, and eldest of all; with such
ties was he bound to his master and godfather, that he was known better
as Cosimo's Peter than by his own patronymic of Chimenti. He was at
this time twenty-two years of age, his registry in the Florentine Guild
proves his birth in 1462, as the son of Lorenzo, son of Piero, son of
Antonio, Chimenti.

Being the eldest of five brothers, it is difficult to conceive how a
member of a large family grew up developing such eccentricities as are
usually the fruit of isolation.

In the studio Piero was industrious and steady, working earnestly,
whether he was assisting his master's designs or carrying out his own
fancies of monsters, old myths, and classic fairy stories. No doubt the
two boys, Mariotto and Baccio, found little companionship in this
abstracted young man always dreaming over his own ideas. If they told
him an anecdote, he would look up vacantly at the end not having heard
a word; at other times every little noise or burst of laughter would
annoy him, and he would be immoderately angry with the flies and

Piero had already been to Rome, and had assisted Cosimo in his fresco
of _Christ preaching on Lake Tiberias_; indeed most judges thought
his landscape the best part of that work, and the talent he showed
obtained him several commissions. He took the portraits of Virginio
Orsini, Ruberto Sanseverino and Duke Valentino, son of Pope Alessandro
VI. He was much esteemed as a portrait painter also in Florence, and
from his love of classical subjects, and extreme finish of execution,
he ranked as one of the best painters of "cassoni," or bridal-linen

This fashion excited the indignation of Savonarola, who in one of his
sermons exclaimed, "Do not let your daughters prepare their 'corredo'
(trousseau) in a chest with pagan paintings; is it right for a
Christian spouse to be familiar with Venus before the Virgin, or Mars
before the saints?"

Thus Piero being a finished painter, was often Cosimo Roselli's
substitute in the instruction of the two boys, for Cosimo having come
home from Rome with some money, lived at his ease; but still continued
to paint frescoes in company with Piero.

Another pupil was Andrea di Cosimo, whose peculiar branch of art was
that of the grotesque. He no doubt drew designs for friezes and
fountains, for architraves and door mouldings, in which distorted faces
look out from all kinds of writhing scrolls; and lizards, dragons,
snakes, and creeping plants, mingle according to the artist's fancy.
Andrea was however often employed in more serious work, as the records
of the Servite Convent prove, for they contain the note of payment to
him, in 1510, for the curtains of the altarpiece which Filippino Lippi
had painted. These curtains were till lately attributed to Andrea del
Sarto, or Francia Bigio.

This is the Andrea Feltrini mentioned by Crowe and Cavalcaselle as
working in the cloister of the Servi with Andrea del Sarto and Francia
Bigio between 1509 and 1514.[Footnote: _History of Painting_, vol.
iii. chap. xvii. p. 546.]

But Baccio's dearest friend in the studio was a boy nearly his own age,
Mariotto Albertinelli, son of Biagio di Bindo, born October 13, 1474.
He had experienced the common lot of young artists in those days, and
had been apprenticed to a gold-beater, but preferred the profession of
painter. From the first these two lads, being thrown almost entirely
together in the work of the studio, formed one of those pure, lasting
friendships, of which so many exist in the annals of art, and so few in
the material world. They helped each other in the drudgery, and enjoyed
their higher studies together; but they did not draw all their
inspirations from the over-coloured works of Cosimo--although Mariotto
once reproduced his red-winged cherubim in after life [Footnote: In the
'Trinity' in the Belle Arti, Florence.]--nor from the hard and laboured
myths of Piero.

They went to higher founts, for scarcely a trace of these early
influences are to be found in their paintings. Vasari says they studied
the _Cose di Leonardo_. The great artist had at this time left the
studio of Verocchio, and was fast rising into fame in Florence, so it
is most probable that two youths with strong artistic tendencies would
study, not only the sketches, but also the precepts, of the great man.
Besides this there were two national art-schools open to students in
Florence: these were the frescoes of Masaccio and Lippi in the Carmine,
and the Medicean garden in the Via Cavour, then called Via Larga.


A.D. 1487-1495.

The two boys left the studio of Cosimo Roselli at an early age. There
had been trouble in the house of Paolo the ex-muleteer, and Baccio's
already serious mind had been awed by the sight of death. His little
brother, Domenico, died in 1486 at seven years of age. His father,
Paolo, died in 1487; thus Baccio, at the age of twelve or thirteen, was
left the head of the family, and the supporter of his stepmother and
her babes. This may account for his leaving Cosimo so young, and
setting up his studio with Mariotto as his companion, in his own house
at the gate of S. Pier Gattolini; this partnership began presumably
about the year 1490.

Conscious that they were not perfected by Cosimo's teaching, they both
set themselves to undergo a strict discipline in art, and, friends as
they were, their paths began to diverge from this point. Their natural
tastes led them to opposite schools--Baccio to the sacred shrine of art
in the shadowed church, Mariotto to the greenery and sunshine of the
Medici garden, where beauty of nature and classic treasures were heaped
in profusion; whose loggie [Footnote: Arched colonnades.] glowed with
the finest forms of Greek sculpture, resuscitated from the tombs of
ages to inspire newer artists to perfection, but alas! also to debase
the aim of purely Christian art.

Baccio's calm devotional mind no doubt disliked the turmoil of this
garden, crowded with spirited youths; the tone of pagan art was not in
accordance with his ideal, and so he learned from Masaccio and Lippi
that love of true form and harmonious composition, which he perfected
afterwards by a close study of Leonardo da Vinci, whose principles of
_chiaroscuro_ he seems to have completely carried out. With this
training he rose to such great celebrity even in his early manhood,
that Rosini [Footnote: Rosini, _Storia della Pittura_, chap. xvii.
p. 48.] calls him "the star of the Florentine school in Leonardo and
Michelangelo's absence," and he attained a grandeur almost equal to the
latter, in the S. Mark and SS. Peter and Paul of his later years.

Meanwhile Mariotto was revelling in the Eden of art, drawing daily
beneath the Loggie--where the orange-trees grew close to the pillars--
from the exquisite statues and "torsi," peopling the shades with white
forms, or copying cartoons by the older masters, which hung against the

The _custode_ of all these treasures was Bertoldo, an old
sculptor, who boasted of having been the scholar of Donatello, and also
heir to his art possessions. He could also point to the bronze pulpits
of San Lorenzo, which he finished, as proof of his having inherited a
portion of his master's spirit. Bertoldo, having doubtless rendered to
Duke Cosimo's keeping his designs by Donatello, which were preserved in
the garden, obtained the post of instructor there; but his age may have
prevented his keeping perfect order, and the younger spirits
overpowered him. There were Michelangelo, with all the youthful power
of passion and force which he afterwards imparted to his works, and the
audacious Torrigiano, with his fierce voice, huge bulk, and knitted
brows, who was himself a discord like the serpent in Eden. Easily
offended, he was prompt in offering outrage. Did any other young man
show talent or surpass him, revenge deep and mean as that of Bandinelli
to Michelangelo was sure to follow, the envied work being spoiled in
his rage. Then there were the fun-loving Francesco Granacci, and the
witty Rustici, as full of boyish pranks as they were of genius--what
could one old man do among so many?--and now comes the impetuous
Mariotto to add one more unruly member to his class.

How well one can imagine the young men--in loose blouses confined at
the waist, or in buff jerkins and close-fitting hose, with jaunty
cloaks or doublets, and little red or black caps, set on flowing locks
cut square in front--passing beneath the shadows of the arches among
the dim statues, or crossing the garden in the sunshine amid the
orange-trees, under the splendid blue Italian skies.

We can see them painting, modelling, or drawing large cartoons in
charcoal, while old Bertoldo passes from easel to easel, criticising
and fault-finding, detailing for the hundredth time Donatello's maxims,
and moving on, heedless or deaf to the irreverent jokes of his
ungrateful pupils.

Then, like a vision of power and grandeur, Lorenzo il Magnifico enters
with a group of his classic friends. Politian and the brothers Pulci
admire again the ancient sculptures which are to them as illustrations
of their readings, and Lorenzo notes the works of all the students who
were destined to contribute to the glory of the many Medicean palaces.
How the burly Torrigiano's heart burns within him when the Duke praises
his compeer's works!

Sometimes Madonna Alfonsina, the mother of Lorenzo, and widow of Piero,
walked here, and she also took an interest in the studies of the
youths. Mariotto especially attracted her by his talent and zeal. She
commissioned him to paint some pictures for her to send as a present to
her own family, the Orsini of Rome. These works, of which the subjects
are not known, passed afterwards into the possession of Casar Borgia.
She also sat to Mariotto for her own portrait. It is easily imagined
how elated the excitable youth became at this notice from the mother of
the magnificent Lorenzo. He had dreams of making a greater name than
even his master, Cosimo, whose handiwork was in the Sistine; of
excelling Michelangelo, of whose genius the world was beginning to
talk; and, as adhering to a party was the only way to success in those
days, he became a strong Pallesco, [Footnote: The Palleschi were the
partizans of the Medici, so called because they took as their standard
the Palle, or Balls, the arms of that family.] trusting wholly in the
favour of Madonna Alfonsina.

He even absented himself almost constantly from the studio, which
Baccio shared with him, and worked at the Medici palace, [Footnote:
This break is signified by Baldinucci, _Opere_, vol. iv. p. 84,
and by Vasari, who says that after the exile of Piero he returned to
Baccio.] but, alas! in 1494 this brilliant aspect of his fortunes

Lorenzo being dead, Piero de' Medici was banished, the great palace
fell into the hands of the republican Signoria, and all the painters
were left without patronage.

Mariotto, very much cast down, bethought himself of a friend who never
failed him, and whose love was not affected by party; and, returning to
the house of Baccio, he set to work, most likely in a renewed spirit of
confidence in the comrade who stood by him when the princes in whom he
trusted failed him. Whatever his frame of mind, he began now to study
earnestly the works of Baccio, who, while he was seeking patronage in
the palace, had been purifying his genius in the Church. Mariotto
imbibed more and more of Baccio's style, till their works so much
resembled one another that indifferent judges could scarcely
distinguish them apart. It would be interesting if we could see those
early pictures done for Madonna Alfonsina, and compare them with the
style formed after this second adherence to Fra Bartolommeo. What his
manner afterwards became we have a proof in the _Salutation_
(1503), in which there is grand simplicity of motive combined with the
most extreme richness of execution and fullest harmony of colour.

This second union between the friends could not have been so
satisfactory to either as the first pure boyish love, when they had
been full of youthful hopes, and felt their hearts expand with the
dreams and visions of genius. Now instead of the mere differences
between two styles of art, there were differences which much more
seriously affected their characters; they were daily sundering, one
going slowly towards the cloister, the other to the world. Albertinelli
had gained a greater love of worldly success and luxury.

Baccio's mind, always attuned to devotion, was now intensified by
family sorrows, which no doubt brought him nearer to heaven. Thus
softened, he had the more readily received the seeds of faith which
Savonarola scattered broadcast.

Yet though every word of the one was a wound to the other, this
strangely assorted pair of friends did not part. Rosini well defined
their union as "a knot which binds more strongly by pulling contrary
ways." [Footnote: _Storia della Pittura,_ chap. xvii. p. 48]

So when Albertinelli, while colouring with zeal a design of Baccio's,
would inveigh against all monks, the Dominicans in particular, and
Savonarola especially, his friend would argue that the inspired prophet
was not an enemy, but a purifier and reformer of art. Probably Baccio
was at the Duomo on that Sunday in Lent, 1495, and reported to Mariotto
those wondrous words of Savonarola, that "Beauty ought never to be
taken apart from the true and good," and how, after quoting the same
sentiments from Socrates and Plato, the preacher went on to say, "True
beauty is neither in form nor colour, but in light. God is light, and
His creatures are the more lovely as they approach the nearer to Him in
beauty. And the body is the more beautiful according to the purity of
the soul within it." Certain it is that this divine light lived ever
after in the paintings of Fra Bartolommeo.

He frequented the cloisters of San Marco, where even Lorenzo de' Medici
used to go and hear the prior expound Christianity near the rose tree.
There were Lorenzo di Credi and Sandro Botticelli, both middle-aged
men, of a high standing as artists; there were the Delia Robbias,
father and son, and several others. Sandro, while listening, must have
taken in the inspired words with the scent and beauty of the roses,
whose spirit he gives in so many of his paintings.

Young Baccio, on the contrary, feasted his eyes on the speaker's face,
till the very soul within it was imprinted on his mind, from whence he
reproduced it in that marvellous likeness, the year after the martyrdom
of Savonarola.

This is the earliest known work of Fra Bartolommeo, and is a faithful
portrait; the deep-sunk eye-socket, and eye like an internal fire,
showing the preacher's powerful mind; the prominent aquiline nose and
dilating vehement nostril bespeaking his earnestness and decision; the
large full mouth alone shows the timorousness which none but himself
knew of, so overpowered was it by his excitable spirit. The handling is
Baccio's own able style, but Sig. Cavalcaselle thinks the influences of
Cosimo Roselli are apparent in the low tone and clouded translucent
colour; he signed it "Hieronymi Ferrariensis, a Deo missi propheta
effigies," a legend which expresses the more than reverence which
Baccio cherished for the preacher. This portrait has only lately been
identified by its present possessor, Sig. Ermolao Rubieri, who
discovered the legend under a coat of paint. Its vicissitudes are
traceable from the time when Sig. Averardo (or, as Vasari calls him,
Alamanno) Salviati brought it back from Ferrara, where no doubt it had
been in the possession of Savonarola's family. Salviati gave it to the
convent of San Vincenzo at Prato, from which place Sig. Rubieri
purchased it in 1810. The likeness of the reformer in the Belle Arti of
Florence has been supposed to be this one, but it is more likely to be
the one done by Fra Bartolommeo at Pian di Mugnone in after years, when
he drew the friar as S. Peter Martyr, with the wound on his head.


A.D. 1496-1500.

Padre Marchese, himself a Dominican, speaks thus of his convent:--"San
Marco has within its walls the Renaissance, a compendium in two
artists. Fra Angelico, the painter of the ideal, Fra Bartolommeo, of
form. The first closes the antique Tuscan school. He who has seen Fra
Angelico, has seen also Giotto, Cimabue, &c. The second represents the
modern school. In him are almost comprised Masaccio, Lorenzo di Credi,
Leonardo, Buonarroti, and Andrea del Sarto."

The first, Fra Angelico, "sets himself to contemplate in God the fount
and architype of the beautiful, and, as much as is possible to mortal
hands, reproduces and stamps it in those works which a sensual mind
cannot understand, but which to the heavenly soul speak an eloquent
language. Fra Bartolommeo, with more analysis, works thoughtfully ...
he ascends from the effect to the cause, and in created things
contemplates a reflection of spiritual beauty."

It is true the Dominican order has been as great a patron of arts as
the Franciscan of literature. It united with Niccolo Pisano to give
form to national architecture. It had sculptors, miniaturists, and
glass painters. As a building San Marco has been a shrine of art; since
the time that Michelozzi, with the assistance of the Medici, built the
convent for Sant' Antonino, and Fra Angelico left the impress of his
soul on the walls, a long line of artist monks has lived within its
cloisters. With San Marco our story has now to deal, for it is
impossible to write Fra Bartolommeo's life without touching on the
well-known history of Savonarola. The great preacher's influence in
these years, from 1492 to 1497, entered into almost every individual in
Florence, either to draw them to devotion, or to stir them up to the
greatest opposition.

The artists, whose minds were probably the most impressional, were his
fervent adherents. He has been accused of being the ruin of art, but
"this cry has only arisen in our time; the silence of contemporaries,
although not friendly to him, proves that he was not in that century so
accused." [Footnote: Gino Capponi, _Storia delta Republica di
Firenze_, lib. vi. chap. ii.] The only mention of anything of
artistic value is a "tavoliere" [Footnote: A chess or draught board.]
of rich work, spoken of by Burlamacchi and Benivieni, in a "Canzone di
un Piagnone sul bruciamento delle Vanita." Savonarola himself was an
artist and musician in early life, the love of the beautiful was strong
within him, only he would have it go hand in hand with the good and
true. His dominant spirit was that of reform; as he tried to regenerate
mind, morals, literature, and state government, so he would reform art,
and fling over it the spiritual light which illumed his own soul.

It was natural that such a mind should act on the devotional character
of Baccio. What could he do but join when every church was full of
worshippers, each shrine at the street corners had a crowd of devout
women on their knees before it--when thousands of faces were uplifted
in the vast expanse of the Duomo, and every face burned with fervour as
the divine flame from the preacher lit the lamp of each soul--when in
the streets he met long processions of men, women, and children, the
echoes of whose hymns (Laudi) filled the narrow streets, and went up to
the clear air above them?

Then came that strange carnival when there were no maskers in the city,
but white-robed boys went from house to house to collect the vanities
for the burning--when the flames of the fires, hitherto saturnalian,
were the flames of a holocaust, wherein each one cast the sins and
temptations, even the pretty things which, though dear to himself,
withdrew him from God. And when the white-robed boys came to the studio
of the friends at the gate of S. Pier Gattolini, with what sighs and
self-immolation Baccio looked for the last time at some of his studies
which he judged to come under the head of _anathemata_, and handed
them over to the acolytes. How Mariotto's soul, warm to Pagan art,
burned within him at this sacrifice! And how he would talk more than
ever against the monks, and hang up his own cartoons and studies of the
Greek Venus in the studio for Baccio's behoof!

In these years we have no notice of authentic works done by the
youthful partners, though biographers talk of their having commissions
for madonnas, and other works of art.

In 1497 Francesco Valori, the grand-featured, earnest admirer of
Savonarola, became Gonfaloniere in the time of Piero de' Medici's
exile, [Footnote: Gino Capponi, _Storia delta Republica di
Firenze_, lib. vi. chap. xi. p. 233.] and the friar's party was in
the ascendent. Rosini [Footnote: _Storia delta Pittura_, chap.
xvii. p. 48.] says that belonging to a faction was a means of fame, and
that the Savonarola party was powerful, giving this as a reason for
Baccio's partisanship; but this we can hardly believe, his whole life
proved his earnestness. He was much beloved in Florence for his calm
upright nature and good qualities. He delighted in the society of pious
and learned men, spent much time in the convent, where he had many
friends among the monks; yet with all he kept still faithful to his
early friend Mariotto, whose life was cast so differently. Savonarola's
faction was powerful, but the Medici had still adherents who stirred up
a strong party against him.

His spirit of reform at length aroused the ire of the Pope, who forbade
him to preach. He disobeyed, and the sermons on Ezekiel were scenes of
tumult; no longer a group of rapt faces dwelling on his words, but
frowns, murmurs, and anathemas from a crowd only kept off him by a
circle of armed adherents round his pulpit.

At length, on June 22nd, the excommunication by Pope Alessandro VI.
(Borgia) fell like a thunderclap, and the Medicean youths marched in
triumphant procession with torches and secular music to burlesque the
Laudi; no doubt Albertinelli was one of these, while Baccio grieved
among the awestruck friars in the convent.

In 1498 Savonarola again lifted up his voice; the church was not large
enough, so he preached beneath the blue sky on the Piazza San Marco;
and Fra Domenico Buonvicini da Pescia, in the eagerness of
partisanship, said that his master's words would stand the ordeal of
fire. Then came that tumultuous day of April 7th, the "Sunday of the
Olives," when the Franciscans and Dominicans argued while the fire
burnt out before them, when Savonarola's great spirit quailed within
him, and the ordeal failed; a merciful rain quenching the flames which
none dared to brave save the undaunted Fra Domenico himself.

There was no painting done in the studio on that day we may be sure.
Baccio was one of the surging, conflicting crowd gathered beneath the
mingling shadows of Orcagna's arches and Arnolfo's great palace, and at
eventide he was one of the armed partisans who protected the friar back
to his convent, menaced not only by rains from heaven, but by the
stormy wrath of an angry populace, defrauded of the sight they came to

The next day was the one which determined the painter's future life.

There was in the city a curious process of crystallisation of all the
particles held in solution round the fire the previous day. The Palazzo
Vecchio attracted about its doors the "Arrabiati." The "Compagnacci"
assembled, armed, by the Duomo. The streets were full of detached
parties of Piagnoni, treading ways of peril to their centre, San Marco.

Passions raged and seethed all day, till at the hour of vespers a cry
arose, "_a San Marco_," and thither the multitude--500 Compagnacci, and
300 Palleschi--rushed, armed with picks and arquebusses, &c. They killed
some stray Piagnoni whom they found praying by a shrine, and placed
guards at the streets which led to the convent; then the assault began.

The church was dimly lighted. Savonarola and Fra Domenico kneeled on
the steps of the altar, with many worshippers around them, singing
tremulous hymns; amongst these were Francesco Valori, Ridolfi, and
Baccio della Porta, but all armed, as Cronaca tells us. They still sang
hymns when the doors were attacked with stones; then leaving the
priests and women to pray for them the men rushed to the defence.

Old Valori, with a few brave friends, guarded the door; others made
loop-holes of the windows and fired out; some went up the campanile,
and some on the roof. Baccio fought bravely among the rest. The
Palleschi were almost repulsed, but at length succeeded in setting fire
to the doors. The church was filled with smoke; a turbulent crowd
rushed wildly in. Savonarola saw his people fall dead beside him on the
altar steps, and, taking up the Sacrament, he fled to the Greek
library, where the messengers of the Signoria came and arrested both
himself and Fra Domenico. It was in the fierce fight that ensued when
the enemies poured in, laying hands sacrilegiously on every thing
sacred, that Baccio made the vow that if he were saved this peril, he
would take the habit--a vow which certainly was not made in a cowardly
spirit, he fighting to the death, and then espousing the losing cause.
[Footnote: Gino Capponi, lib. vi. chaps. i. and ii., and Padre
Marchese, _San Marco_, p. 147 _et seq._]

Then came that sad 23rd of May, the eve of the Ascension, when three
martyrs went calmly to their death beneath the shadow of the old
palace, amidst the insults of an infuriated crowd, and Arno's yellow
waters received their ashes. [Footnote: Capponi, chap. ii. p. 253.]

the Accademia delle Belle Arti, Florence_.]

After the death of Savonarola the party had many defaulters; but
Baccio, the Delia Robbias, Credi, Cronaca, and many other artists, were
faithful, and even showed their grief by abandoning for a time the arts
they loved. "It almost seemed as if with him they had lost the sacred
flame from which their fervid imagination drew life and aliment."
[Footnote: Marchese, _San Marco_, lib. iii. p. 261.]

While all these events had been taking place, Baccio had worked as
often as his perturbed spirit would allow, at a great fresco of the
_Last Judgment_, in a chapel of the cemetery of S. Maria Nuova. A
certain Gerozzi, di Monna Venna Dini, gave him the commission, and as
far as he had gone, the painter had given entire satisfaction. This
fresco, his first as far as is known, shows Baccio's style as fully as
his later ones. We have here his great harmony of form, and intense
suggestiveness in composition. The infinity of heaven is emblematised
in circles of saints and cherubim around the enthroned Christ. The
cross, a link between heaven and earth, is borne by a trinity of
angels; S. Michael, as the avenging spirit, stands a powerful figure in
the foreground dividing the saved from the lost; the whole composition
forming a heavenward cross on an earthly foundation. There are no caves
and holes of torture with muscular bodies writhing within them; but in
the despairing figures passing away on the right, some with heads bowed
on clasped hands, others lifting up faces and arms in a vain cry for
mercy, what suggestions there are of infinite remorse!--more dignified
far than the distorted sufferers in the torture pits of previous
masters. These are just indicated by two demons, and a subterranean
fire behind the unblest souls. Miss Owen, [Footnote: _Art Schools of
Christendom_, edited by Prof. Ruskin.] speaking Mr. Ruskin's
sentiments, calls this a great falling off from Giotto and Orcagna's
conceptions; but though theirs may be more powerful and terrible, a
greater suggestion of Christian religion is here.

They, and later, Michelangelo, flung Dante's great struggling soul in
tangible forms upon the walls, and embodied his poem, awful, grand, and
earnest, with all the human passion intensified into human suffering.
Fra Bartolommeo shows the Christian spirit; his faces look beyond the
present judgment, and, instead of wrath, mercy is the predominating
idea. It is like the difference in spirit between the Old Testament and
the New.

The painter's reverence of Fra Angelico, and estimation of the divinity
of art, is shown by Fra Angelico being placed among the saints of
heaven on the right of the Saviour.

Leonardo's instructions for shading off a light sky will occur to any
one who studies the finely gradated tints mingling with the clouds
around the celestial group. But grand as the fresco is, and interesting
as it must have been to the artist at this time, when thoughts of
Savonarola mingled with every stroke, he felt he was not fulfilling his
true mission in the world. Drawn more and more to the convent, hallowed
to him by the memory of the martyr-friar, he was also more attuned to
thoughts of retirement by family bereavements--one young brother,
Piero, only being left to him out of the whole circle. The reluctance
to leave this youth alone may have deferred for a time his taking the
monastic vows; but having placed him under the guardianship of Santi
Pagnini, a Dominican, he consigned the _Last Judgment_ to Mariotto
to finish, and leaving his worldly goods to his brother, took the habit
in the convent of S. Domenico, at Prato, on July 26th, 1500, two years
after first making the resolution. His year of probation over, he took
the final vows and became Fra Bartolommeo.

A document in S. Marco proves that he was possessed of worldly goods
when he entered, [Footnote: Rosini, _Storia della Pittura_, chap
xxvii.] among which were the house of his father in S. Pier Gattolini,
and the podere at Brozzi. Having once given himself up to monasticism,
Fra Bartolommeo would offer no half-service, his brushes were left
behind with all other worldly things, and here closes Baccio della
Porta's first artistic career.

His sun was set only to rise again to greater brilliance in the future
as Fra Bartolommeo, a name famous for ever in the annals of art.


A.D. 1504-1509.

Four years had passed, and the monk had never touched a pencil, but his
mission in art was not fulfilled, and events were working towards that
end, for the spirit of art once awakened could not die either in that
convent or in that age.

His friend, Mariotto, kept him _au courant_ in all the gossip of
art, and told him of the great cartoons of Leonardo and Michelangelo,
which he too went to see. They might have inspired him afresh, or
perhaps in advising Albertinelli he himself felt impelled to paint, or
possibly the visits of Raphael in 1504 influenced him.

Padre Marchese takes the conventional view, and says that Santi
Pagnini, the oriental scholar and lover of art, came back to S. Marco
in 1504 as prior, and used not only his entreaties, but his authority,
to induce Fra Bartolommeo to recommence painting. However this may be,
it is certain that when Bernardo del Bianco, who had built a beautiful
chapel in the Badia from Rovezzano's designs, wished for an altar-piece
worthy of its beauty, which he felt no hand could execute so well as
that of the Frate--he yielded to persuasion, and the _Vision of S.
Bernard_ was begun. The contract is dated 18th November, 1504; a
part payment of sixty florins in gold was made 16th of June, 1507.
[Footnote: Padre Marchese, _Memorie_, iii. vol. ii. p. 594.]

This picture, now in the Belle Arti of Florence, is so much injured by
re-painting that some parts seem even crude. The saint is on his knees
writing, while the vision of the Virgin and Child stands poised in air
before him; she inspires his pen, and the infant Christ gives His
blessing on the work. There is great spirituality and ecstasy in St.
Bernard's face, his white robe contrasts well with two saints behind
him, which carry out Fra Bartolommeo's favourite triangular grouping,
and with a rich harmony of colour balance his white robe.

The Virgin is drawn with great nobility and grace, her drapery
admirably majestic, yet airy, and a sweet, infantile playfulness
renders the Child charming. The angels beneath the Virgin's feet are
lovely, but the group of seraphs behind are the least pleasing of all.
They are of the earth, earthy, and seem reminiscences of the Florentine
maidens the artist met in the streets. Possibly this is the part most
injured by the restorer's hand. The colouring of the two saints behind
S. Bernard-one in a green robe with bronze-gold shades, and the other
blue and orange-is very suggestive of Andrea del Sarto, and seems to
render probable Rosini's assertion that the Frate "taught the first
steps of this difficult career to that artist who alone was called
'senz' errori.'"

Having once retaken the brush, Fra Bartolommeo recovered his former
skill and fame; a beautiful specimen of this period is the _Meeting
of Christ with the Disciples of Emmaus_ (1506), a fresco in a lunette
over the door of the refectory at S. Marco; in which he combines a
richness of colouring rarely obtained in fresco, with a drawing which
is almost perfect. Fra Niccolo della Magna, who was prior in that year,
and left in 1507 to become Archbishop of Capua, sat for one of the
saints. Contemporory with this may be dated also the figure of the
_Virgin_, painted for Agnolo Doni, now in the Corsini gallery in Rome.
Giovanni de' Medici also gave him a commission.

Meanwhile the _S. Bernard_ was not paid for. Fra Bartolommeo
priced it at 200 ducats, and the convent being the gainer by his works,
took his own valuation. Bernardo offered only eighty ducats; the Frati
were indignant, and called in the Abbot of the Badia as umpire; he
being unable to move Bernardo, retired from office; then a council of
friends was resolved on, in which Mariotto was for the painter, and
Lorenzo de Credi for the purchaser; but this also failed.

It was next proposed to submit the question to the Guild of Druggists
(_arte degli speziali_), which included at that time also doctors
and painters; but the convent, refusing lay judgment, took the offer of
Francesco Magalotti, a relative of Bernardo, who priced it at 100
ducats, and the monks had to be satisfied. The dispute ended July 17th,
1507. [Footnote: Rosini, _Storia della Pittura_, chap, xxvii. p.
245, and Padre Marchese, _Memorie_, &c., vol. ii. pp. 42 to 45.]

All writers agree as to the fact of Fra Bartolommeo's friendship with
Raphael, but very few are decided as to its date. Raphael was in
Florence in 1504, but then Fra Bartolommeo had not re-commenced
painting, and would have no works in the convent to excite his
admiration of the colouring. Padre Marchese, following Rosini and Padre
Luigi Pungeleoni, asserts that this intimacy was during Raphael's
second visit in 1506, when he might have seen the newly-finished fresco
of _The Disciples at Emmaus_. It is undoubted that their intercourse
was beneficial to both. Raphael studied anew Leonardo's principles of
colour under Fra Bartolommeo's interpretation of them, and the Frate
improved his knowledge of perspective and harmony of composition. It is
said they worked together at some pictures, of which one is in France, and
another at Milan; but there is not sufficient evidence to prove this.

It is also thought that Fra Bartolommeo helped in the composition of
Raphael's famous _Madonna del Baldacchino_, which is truly very
much in his style.

The year 1508 marks the Frate's first acquaintance with the Venetian
school, which was not without its influence upon him. Frequent
interchange of visits took place between the Dominicans in the
different parts of Italy; and Fra Bartolommeo took the opportunity then
offered him of going to visit his brethren at Venice.

His namesake, Baccio di Monte Lupo, a sculptor who had fled from
Florence after the death of Savonarola, and who had fought side by side
with Baccio in the siege of S. Mark's church, was in Venice at that
time, working on the tomb of Benedetto da Pesaro in the church of the
Frati, and he was only too delighted to show the beauties of the Queen
of the Adriatic to an artistic mind. Tintoretto was not yet born;
Titian was only just rising into fame, though his style had not yet
become what it was after Giorgione's influence; but Fra Bartolommeo
must have found much that was sympathetic in the exquisite works of
Giovanni Bellini and his school, and much to admire in the glorious
colouring of Giorgione.

Father Dalzano, the vicar of the monastery of S. Peter Martyr at
Murano, gave the Florentine monk a commission for a picture of the
value of seventy or 100 ducats. Not having time to paint this during
his stay, he promised to execute it on his return to Florence, and the
vicar paid him in advance twenty-eight ducats in money and colours; the
rest was to be raised by the sale of some MS. letters from S. Catherine
of Siena, which a friend of Father Dalzano near Florence held in

Fra Bartolommeo, having brought home from the Venetian school a new
impulse for painting, and wishing to diffuse the religious influence of
art more widely, desired to enlarge his atelier and school at San
Marco. His only assistants in the convent were Fra Paolino of Pistoja,
and one or two miniaturists, who were only good at missals. Fra Paolino
(born 1490) took the vows at a very early age, and was removed to
Florence from Prato with Fra Bartolommeo. He was the son of a painter,
Bernardino di Antonio, but though he learned the first principles from
him, his real art was imbibed from the Frate, under whom, together with
Mariotto, he worked for years.

But this youthful scholar was not enough for Fra Bartolommeo's new
energies. He pined for his old friend, Mariotto, who could follow out
his designs in his own style so closely, that an unpractised eye could
not see the difference of hand; and such was his influence on the
rulers of the order, that they allowed a most unique partnership to be
entered into.

The parties were, Albertinelli on one side, and the convent and Fra
Bartolommeo on the other. The partners to provide the expenses, and the
profits to be divided between the convent and Mariotto; the vow of
poverty not allowing Fra Bartolommeo as an individual any personal
share. This began in 1509 and lasted till 1512. The inventory of the
profits and the division made when the partnership was dissolved, given
entire by Padre Marchese, [Footnote: Padre Marchese, _Memorie_,
&c., vol. ii.] are very interesting. The two artists had separate
monograms to distinguish the pictures which were specially their own,
besides which the monk signed his with the touching petition, "_orate
pro pictore,_" his friend merely Latinising his name; the works
painted together were signed by the combined monograms. Before setting
a hand to anything else, the Frate fulfilled his engagement to the
Venetian prior, for whom he painted the _Eternal in Heaven_,
surrounded by saints and angels; but of this we will speak later.


A.D. 1501-1510.

During the interval between the second and third partnership of this
incongruous pair of friends, the life of Albertinelli had been very
different from that of the Frate. So distressed was he at losing Baccio
that he was quite wild for a time. His passions being unruled, that of
grief took entire possession of him. In his despair he vowed to give up
painting; he declared that he would also become a monk, if it were not
that he now hated them more than ever; besides, he was a Pallesco, and
could not desert his party.

After a time, however, he calmed down, and, looking on his friend's
unfinished fresco of the _Last Judgment_ as a legacy from him,
began to work at it as a kind of obligation till the occupation wove
its own charm, and he steadily devoted himself to art again, much to
the satisfaction of good Gerozzi Dini, who was in great perturbation,
and declared there was not another hand but his in Florence which could
finish it; and also to the relief of Fra Bartolommeo himself, who,
having received money on account, was troubled in conscience lest it
should remain unfinished. There remained only some figures to put in
the terrestrial group, all the celestial portions having been finished
by the Frate; but they are very well drawn figures, with a good deal of
expression in them. Several are likenesses, amongst whom are Dini and
his wife, Bugiardini, the painter's pupil, and himself. Most of these
are now destroyed by the effects of damp.

Mariotto left Fra Bartolommeo's house in S. Pier Gattolini, and took a
room in Gualfonda--now Via Val Fonda--a street leading towards the
fortress, built by the Grand Duke Cosimo on the north of the city; and
here in time quite a school grew up under his tuition. Giuliano
Bugiardini was his head assistant rather than pupil; Francia Bigio,
then a boy, Visino, who afterwards went to Hungary, and Innocenzio da
Nicola, besides Piero, Baccio's brother, were all scholars.
Albertinelli's Bottega in Val Fonda gave some noble paintings to the
world, works independently his own, though Fra Bartolommeo's influence
is traceable in most of them. The finest of these is the
_Salutation_, dated 1503--ordered for the Church of S. Martino,
and now the gem of the hall of the Old Masters in the Uffizi Gallery--a
work which alone has been able to mark him for all time as a great

So simple is the subject, and yet so grand the proportions, and in the
figures there is such majesty of maternity and dignity of womanhood! A
decorated portico, with the heavens behind it, forms the background to
the two noble women, in one of whom is expressed the gracious sympathy
of an elder matron with the awful, mysterious joy of the younger.

The colouring, perfectly harmonised, is the most masterly blending of a
subdued tone with soft yet brilliant and shows a deep study of the
method of Leonardo.

The predella has an _Annunciation_, _Nativity_, and
_Circumcision_; all showing the same able style, but more injured
by time than the picture.

Another charming painting of this period is the _Nativity_ at the
Pitti, a round, on panel. The _Madonna_ is not quite so noble as
that of the _Salutation_, but the limbs of the child are beautifully
rounded. There is a pretty group of three angels singing in the sky; the
landscape is as minute in detail as those his old fellow-pupil Piero used
to paint in Cosimo's studio.

In 1504-5 Fra Bartolommeo called upon him for a deed of friendship,
which proves that, whatever biographers (building up theories on a word
or two in Vasari) may say of his want of steadiness, the friend who
knew him best had supreme trust in him. Santi Pagnini, having been
removed to Siena as prior, Fra Bartolommeo made Mariotto guardian and
instructor of his young brother Piero, signing a contract that Mariotto
was to have the use and management of all estates and possessions of
Piero, which included several _poderi_ in the country, as well as
the house at the Porta Romana (S. Pier Gattolini). In return
Albertinelli was to keep Piero in his house, teach, clothe, and provide
for him, not, however, being obliged to give him more than "sette
(seven) soldi" a month. Albertinelli was also to have a mass said
yearly in the Church of S. Pier Gattolini for the soul of Paolo the
muleteer, and to use two pounds of wax candles thereat. [Footnote:
Padre Marchese, _Memorie_, vol. ii. pp. 36, 37.] The contract was
signed from 1st January, 1505, and was to last till 1st January, 1511.
It appears that this brother Piero was a great trouble to the Frate,
being of a bizarre disposition, and addicted to squandering money; he
sold some possessions for much less than their worth, [Footnote:
Private communication from Sig. G. Milanesi.] which probably accounts
for the singular contract of guardianship. He did not show enough
talent to become a painter, and took priests' orders later.

About this time Fra Bartolommeo recommenced work, and while he was
painting the triptych for Donatello's _Madonna_ (the miniature
_Nativity_ and _Circumcision_ in the Uffizi), Albertinelli was at work
in the convent of the Certosa, at a _Crucifixion_ in fresco. The
painting is extant in the chapterhouse, and is a very fair and
unrestored specimen of his best style. The Virgin and Magdalen are very
purely conceived figures; the idea of the angels gathering the blood
falling from the wounded hands of the crucified Saviour is very tender;
there is a great brightness of colouring, and a greenish landscape almost
Peruginesque in feeling. Some of his pupils worked with him at the
Certosa, and nearly brought their master into trouble.

They were not more content with convent fare than was Davide
Ghirlandajo, when the only delicacy supplied him at Vallombrosa was
cheese; and to revenge themselves, they stole round the cloister after
the circular sliding panels by which the rations were sent into the
monks' cells were filled, and feasted on the meals made ready for the
good brothers. Great confusion ensued in the convent, the monks
accusing each other of the theft; but when they found out the real
culprits, they made a compromise, promising double rations if the
artists would hasten their work and leave them their daily dole in

The fresco is dated 1506. The same year produced the fine picture now
in the Louvre, which was painted for the church of S. Trinita on the
commission of Zanobio del Maestro.

The _Madonna_, stands on a pedestal, with S. Jerome and S. Zenobio
in front, while episodes from their lives are brought in like distant
echoes in the background. [Footnote: S. Zenobio was the first bishop of
Florence, and is the patron saint of that city.]

The nuns of S. Giuliano employed him to paint two pictures, both of
which are now in the Belle Arti. One is an altarpiece; the _Madonna
enthroned_, with the Divine Child in her arms. Era Bartolommeo's
idea of an angel-sustained canopy is here, but the angels hold it up
from the outside instead of the inside. Before her are S. John the
Baptist, S. Julian, S. Nicholas, and S. Dominic. The S. Julian has a
great similarity to the S. Michael of Perugino, and the S. John, by its
good modelling, shows the result of his studies from the antique in the
Medici garden.

For the same church he did the curious conventional painting of the
_Trinity_ on a gold ground. The subject is inartistic, because
unapproachable; the attempt to paint that which is a deep spiritual
mystery degrades both the art and the subject; the latter because it
lowers it to human grasp, the former because it shows its powerlessness
to shadow forth the infinite. There is beautiful painting in the heads
of the angels, at the foot of the Cross, but the brilliancy of the gold
ground is overpowering to the colours, albeit he has balanced it by
reproducing Cosimo Roselli's red-winged cherubs. Nothing but Fra
Angelico's delicate tints can bear such a background. No doubt Piero,
Baccio's brother, helped to lay on this gold, for one of the
stipulations in the contract with Mariotto was that he was to "metter
d' oro ed altre cose di mazoneria" (to put on gold and other articles
of emblazonment).

It has been a great subject of conjecture at what part of his life
Albertinelli took the rash step of throwing up his art and opening a
tavern at Porta S. Gallo. Some say it was in his despair at Fra
Bartolommeo having taken the vows, but this is disproved by his having
at that time finished the _Last Judgment_, and taken pupils in Val
Fonda. Others assert that it was at the breaking up of the last
partnership in 1513, but there is no hiatus in his work at that time,
existing paintings being dated in 1513 and the following years till his
death, three years after.

Vasari, though not to be depended on in regard to dates--chronology not
being his forte--is generally right in the gossip and stories of the
lives near his own time, and it is by collateral evidence from his
pages that we are able to fix with more certainty 1508 or 1509 as the
time of this episode in Albertinelli's life. In 1507 we find him as an
artist helping to value his friend's picture, and mediating between the
convent and Bernardo del Bianco. [Footnote: Crowe and Cavalcaselle,
vol. iii. chap. xvii. p. 544.] Now, in the 'Life of Andrea del Sarto,'
we read that Francia Bigio, Albertinelli's pupil, made the acquaintance
of Andrea while studying the Cartoons in the Hall of the Council (this
was from 1506 to 1508), and as their friendship increased, Andrea
confided to Francia Bigio that he could no longer endure the
eccentricities of Piero di Cosimo, and determined to seek a home for
himself, and that Francia Bigio being also alone--his master Mariotto
Albertinelli _having abandoned the art of painting_--they
determined to share a studio and rooms. [Footnote: Vasari, vol. iii. p.
182.] The first works the partners undertook were the frescoes of the
Scalzo and the Servi, which were begun in 1509. Thus the date is
tolerably certain, especially as a gap occurs in Albertinelli's works
at this time.

Sig. Gaetano Milanesi's researches in the Archives have thrown a new
light on Mariotto's motives, which were not entirely connected with
art; it was not that he was discouraged by adverse criticism, nor
wholly that, as time divided him from his friend, he felt he could
produce no great work away from his influence, but it was partly that
he had married a wife named Antonia, whose father kept an inn at S.
Gallo. It is possible the tavern came to him by way of _dot_, and
the above reasons making him discontented with art for a time, might
have induced him to carry on the business himself. Sig. Milanesi says a
document exists of a contract in which Mariotto's name is connected
with a tavern, but that he has never been able to retrace it since the
first time he found it. It is his opinion that the whole story arose
from the fact of the wife's family possessing this wine shop, and his
connection with it in that way.

But though Albertinelli passed off his pseudo-hostdom with bravado,
talking very wittily about it, the artistic vein was too strong within
him to be subdued; he soon gave up the flask and returned to the brush,
for in 1509, when his quondam pupil, Francia Bigio, was busy at the
Servi, we again find Mariotto's hand in a painting of the
_Madonna_. The Virgin, holding a pomegranate in her hand, supports
with the other the Child, who stands on a parapet, and clings to the
bosom of his mother's dress for support, in a truly natural way; the
infant Baptist stands by. The painting, signed, and dated 1509, is in
the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, but has been injured by repainting.
In spite of this, Messrs. Crowe and Cavalcaselle believe they perceive
Bugiardini's hand in it.

In 1510 Albertinelli began one of his masterpieces, the
_Annunciation_ for the company of S. Zenobio, now in the Belle
Arti. All his zeal for art was reawakened, he flung himself _con
amore_ into this work, which, though in oil on panel, was painted on
the spot where it was intended to be placed, that the lights might be
managed with the best effect. He was imbued with Leonardo da Vinci's
principle, that the greatest relief and force are to be combined with
softness, and wishing to bring this combination to a perfection which
never before had been reached, he depended greatly on the natural light
to further his design. [Footnote: Vasari, vol. ii. p. 469.]

The picture, although a great work of art, and the most laboured of all
his paintings, failed to satisfy the artist. He tried various
experiments, painting in and painting out, but never reaching his own
ideal. According to Leonardo, he was proving himself a good artist, one
of his principles being, "when his (an artist's) knowledge and light
surpass his work so that he is not satisfied with himself or his
endeavours, it is a happy omen." [Footnote: Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise
on Painting.]

The work as it stands is a noble one, though darkened by time having
brought out the black pigments used in the shades. The background is an
intricate piece of architecture with vaulted roof, showing that he too
had profited by Raphael's instructions in perspective to Fra

The Virgin is a tender sweet figure; indeed no artist has given more
gracious dignity to womanhood than Albertinelli, although his
detractors say his life showed no great respect for it. Above, the
Almighty is seen in a yellow light with a circle of angels and seraphs
around. It is strange how the realistic painters stopped at nothing,
not even the representation of the eternal in a human form. Is not this
the reason why art ceased about this time to be the interpreter of
religion, and found its true mission in being the interpreter of
nature? Who can draw one soul? How much more impossible then to depict
the incomprehensible soul in which all others have their being? The
utmost we can do is to give the indication of the spirit in the
expression of a face, and that so imperfectly that not two beholders
read it alike. Study Perugino and Raphael, see how they raise human
nature and etherealize it till we see the divinity of soul in the faces
of their saints and martyrs. But the moment they try to depict the
Almighty, or even his angels, they fall at once below humanity.

But to return to the _Annunciation_ of Albertinelli. His impetuous
temper betrayed him even here; he fell into a dispute with his patrons,
who refused to pay the price he asked. The usual "trial by his peers"
was resorted to, Perugino, Granacci, and Ridolfo Ghirlandajo were
called into council to value it according to its merits.

On completing this picture the events we have related in the last
chapter took place, Fra Bartolommeo returned from Venice with his
enterprise renewed, and the convent partnership was commenced.


A.D. 1510--1513.

We now come to the studio of S. Marco, where the two friends, who had
dreamed together as boys, and worked together as youths, now laboured
jointly as men, bringing to light some of the finest works of art that
remain to us. During these three years Albertinelli's star seems merged
in that of his senior, his hand is to be recognised in the lower parts
of a few altarpieces; but it is always difficult to distinguish the two

It was a very busy atelier, for they had many patrons. Bugiardini was
still Mariotto's head assistant, and Fra Paolino, and one or two other
monks, worked under Fra Bartolommeo, besides pupils of both, among whom
were Gabriele Rustici and Benedetto Cianfanini.

The studio was on the part of the convent between the cloister and Via
del Maglio, [Footnote: Padre Marchese, _Memorie_, vol. ii. p. 69.]
and we can quite picture its interior. There stands the lay figure on
which Fra Bartolommeo draped the garments that take such majestic folds
in his works; [Footnote: Fra Bartolommeo was the inventor of the
jointed lay figure.] there are several casts and models in different
parts of the room; grand cartoons in charcoal hang on the walls, like
those we see to this day in the Uffizi and Belle Arti. So many of these
masterly sketches are the Frate's and so few are Mariotto's that we may
presume the former was in most instances the designer. And to what
perfection he carried design! Not a figure was drawn except its lines
harmonised with the geometric rhythm in the artist's mind. His groups
fall by nature into kaleidoscopic figures of circles, triangles,
ellipses, crosses, &c. Not a cartoon was sketched in which the lights
and shadows were not as gradated and finished as a painting, although
they were merely drawn with charcoal. The following was the method of
work in the "bottega." The panels were prepared with a coating of
plaster of Paris, over which, when dry, a coat of under colour, ground
in oil, was passed. The preparing of the panels fell to the work of one
of the monk scholars, Fra Andrea.[Footnote: The books of the convent
have a note of payment to Fra Bartolommeo for 20th March, 1512, "per
parte di lavoro di Fra Andrea converse per mettere d'oro, et ingessare
alle tavole nella bottega in diversi lavori" (Padre Marchese,
_Memorie_, lib. ii. chap. in. p. 70).] Then the master made his
sketch in white, or "sgraffito" (i.e. graven on the plaster), as in the
architectural lines of the pictures of patron saints in the Uffizi, and
the _Marriage of S. Catherine_ in the Pitti Palace; he also put in
the shadows in monochrome. But the assistants, who were skilled
artists, were called to put broad level tints of local colour on the
buildings, &c., the master himself finishing the faces. No doubt
Albertinelli was often deputed to the study of the lay figure and its
drapery. Where he assisted, the monogram, a cross with two rings and
the joint names, marked the work, as en a panel of 1510 in Vienna, and
another at Geneva.

Fra Bartolommeo only imitated Leonardo in his intense force and soft
gradations; the general thinness of colour is opposed to his system. He
followed him, however, in his method of painting his shadows with the
brush, instead of "hatching" them; he used the same yellowish ground,
and "sfumato," [Footnote: Eastlake's _Materials for a History of Oil
Painting_, vol. ii. chap. iv.] _i.e._ the imperceptible softening of the
transition in half-lights and shadows; it was effected by glazes, and is
not adapted to a thin substance. The great mistake in Fra Bartolommeo's
system was the preparing his paintings like cartoons, and using asphaltum
or lamp-black for outlines and shadows; this in process of time destroys
the super-colour, and gives a general blackness to the painting.

The same kind of talk went on here as in modern studios. When the
frame-maker came, Fra Bartolommeo would be vexed to see how much of his
work was hidden beneath the massive cornice, and would vow to dispense
with frames altogether, which he did in his _S. Sebastian_ and
_S. Mark_, by painting an architectural niche round the subject
like a carving in relief.

The first work begun at the convent studio was the picture for Father
Dalgano of Venice, the subject of which is the _Eternal Father in
Heaven_, surrounded by seraphs and angels. Perhaps in this we have
the source of the motive of Albertinelli's _Annunciation_. The
colouring is more brilliant than any of the Frate's works before his
visit to Venice. Vasari says that in this picture Giorgione himself
could not have surpassed him in brilliancy. The saints, although nearly
level with the ground, are given celestial rank by the cherubs and
clouds below them. Fra Bartolommeo was dissatisfied with his angels,
which seemed merely lovely children, and seeking other forms, he
thought to picture them better under shapes which at a distance seem
only clouds, but nearer are full of angels' faces, as in the _S.
Bernard_. But this idea, not having aesthetic beauty, was also
abandoned. [Footnote: Padre Marchese, _I Puristi ed Accademici_.]

The monks of S. Pietro at Murano did not hasten to claim their picture,
but sent two friars to negotiate about the price; they failed to agree,
and the work is now in the Church of S. Romano in Lucca.

Lucca has another exquisite picture of the same year in the Cathedral
of S. Martino, a _Madonna and Child_--a lovely ideal of joyful
infancy--beneath a veil suspended above her head by two angels. S. John
Baptist and S. Stephen support this airy composition like pillars,
their figures showing in strong relief against the dark shades; the
whole picture is intensely soft, and yet the outlines are perfectly
clear. This is valued at sixty ducats in the Libri di San Marco.

Next followed the _Virgin and Child with four Saints_, in S.
Marco, which is so fine that it has been taken for a Raphael, although,
owing to the use of lamp-black, it has now become very much darkened.

The _Holy Family_ which he painted for Filippo di Averardo
Salviati, and which is now in Earl Cowper's collection at Panshanger,
is an almost Raphaelesque work, and attains the greatest excellence in
art. The composition is his favourite triangle, touched in with the
flowing lines of the mother seated on the ground with the two children
before her. S. Joseph is in the background. The greatest softness of
flesh tints must have been perceptible when new, for, "in spite of the
abrasions produced by time, the delicate tones brought out by
transparent glazes fused one over another are apparent." The landscape
with an echo subject of the flight into Egypt is thought by Crowe and
Cavalcaselle to be by Albertinelli.

In 1510 the partners had a large order from Giuliano da Gagliano, who,
on the 2nd November, 1510, and 14th January, 1511, paid, in two rates,
the sum of 154 ducats. The picture, which is Fra Bartolommeo's own
painting, unfortunately cannot be traced.

In 1511 a long list of works are enumerated--a _Nativity_, valued
two ducats, a _Christ bearing the Cross_, and an _Annunciation_, sold
to the Gonfaloniere for six ducats--pictures which are dispersed in
England, Pavia, &c.; but the masterpiece of the time is the _Marriage of
S. Catherine_, now in the Louvre. The Florentine government bought it for
300 ducats in 1512, to present to Jacques Hurault, Bishop of Autun, who
came to Florence as envoy of Louis XII. He left it to his cathedral at
Autun, from whence, at the Revolution, it passed to the Louvre. [Footnote:
Padre Marchese, _Memorie_, lib. iii. ch. iv. p. 77. Crowe and
Cavalcaselle, _History of Painting_, vol. iii. chap. xiii. p. 452.]
Before it was sent away, Fra Bartolommeo made a replica of it, which is
now in the Pitti Palace. There is his favourite canopy supported by
angels; in this case they are beautifully foreshortened. The Virgin is
seated on a pedestal, holding by one arm an exquisitely moulded child
Jesus of about four years old, who is espousing S. Catherine of Siena,
kneeling at His feet on the left. A semicircle of saints group on each
side of the Virgin, and two angels, with musical instruments, are at her
feet; the upturned face of one is exquisitely foreshortened. The S. George
in armour is a powerful figure; and in S. Bartholomew, on the left, is
the same grand feeling which he afterwards brought to perfection in S.
Mark. The grace of the Virgin's figure is not to be surpassed; if
Raphael's Madonnas have more sentiment, this has more dignified grace.
He has remembered Leonardo's precept, "that the two figures of a group
should not look the same way"; the contrast of the flowing lines in
these two forms is very lovely. The same contrast of lines, and yet
balance of form, is carried out in the two S. Catherines who form the
pyramid on each side of her, and in the varied characters of the
encircling group of saints. The deleterious use of lampblack has
spoiled the colouring; it, moreover, hangs in a bad light at the Pitti

The original subject at the Louvre differs only in a few particulars
from this--the Virgin's hand is on the child's head instead of his arm,
and there are trifling differences in the grouping of the saints, the
semicircle being more rigidly kept. In this the flesh is thin and
uncracked, seeming imbedded in the surrounding colours; the lake
draperies are laid so thinly on the light ground, that the sketch can
be seen through the colour. [Footnote: Eastlake, _Materials for a
History of Oil Painting_, vol. ii. chap. iv. Crowe and Cavalcaselle
speak of the two paintings as unconnected with each other, and mention
the Pitti one as having unaccountably returned there after having been
given to some bishop. Is it not possible that the gift to a bishop
refers to the painting in the Louvre, and that the other is the replica
spoken of by Vasari, vol. ii. p. 452?]

There is a fine painting in the church of S. Caterina of Pisa, in the
chapel of the Mastiani family, Michele Mastiani having given the
commission, and paid thirty ducats, in October, 1511. It represents the
_Madonna and Child_ seated on a base; the action is quiet and yet
vivacious; she is supported on each side by S. Peter and S. Paul,
figures as large as life, and even more noble than the ones in Rome.
The colouring has been much injured by a fire in the seventeenth
century, but is robust and harmonious. It is dated 1511.

On the 26th of November, 1510, Fra Bartolommeo had a commission from
Pier Soderini, then Gonfaloniere, to paint a picture for the Council
Hall. This was an unfortunate order; for Michelangelo and Leonardo da
Vinci had both been commissioned, neither of them finishing the works.
Fra Bartolommeo's forms the third uncompleted painting; it exists still
in the form of a half prepared picture, the design being only shadowed
in monochrome, and this in spite of the payment on account of 100 gold
ducats in October, 1513. [Footnote: See Padre Marchese, _Memorie_,
documenti 5 and 6, vol ii. p. 603.] The reason of this is difficult to
assign, but it might lie in the fact that in 1512 Pier Soderini was
deposed and exiled by Giuliano de' Medici, who assumed the government.
Another reason may have been the failure of Fra Bartolommeo's health
after his journey to Rome.

In 1512 Santi Pagnini came back from Siena as prior of S. Marco, and he
having no love for Albertinelli, and perhaps a too jealous affection
for the artist Monk, caused the partnership to be dissolved, much to
Mariotto's sorrow. The stock, of which a full list is given by Padre
Marchese, was divided, each taking the pictures in which they had most
to do. The properties--amongst which were the lay figures, easels,
casts, sketches, blocks of porphyry to grind colours on, &c. [Footnote:
Padre Marchese, vol. ii. pp. 184, 185.]--were to be left for Fra
Bartolommeo's use till his death, when they were to be divided between
his heirs and Albertinelli.

Mariotto returned disheartened to paint in his solitary studio. A
specimen of this period is the _Adam and Eve_, now at Castle
Howard, which is said to have been sketched in by Fra Bartolommeo. Eve
stands beneath the serpent-entwined tree, hesitating between the
demon's temptations and Adam's persuasions; the feeling and action are
perfectly expressed, the landscape is minute, but has plenty of
atmosphere and good colouring. In the same collection is a _Sacrifice
of Abraham_, in his best style. The drawing of the father,
reluctantly holding his knife to the throat of the boy, is extremely
true. Munich possesses a fine _Annunciation_. Characteristic
saints support the composition on each side, the nude S. Sebastian
being a markworthy study; an angel at his side presents the palm of
martyrdom. The picture has suffered much from bad cleaning.

In March, 1513, Albertinelli was commissioned by the Medici to paint
their arms, in honour of Leo X.'s elevation to the papacy. He made a
fine allegorical circular picture, in which the arms were supported by
the figures of Faith, Hope, and Charity.


A.D. 1514--1517.

It is probable that the dissolution of partnership marked the time of
Fra Bartolommeo's visit to Rome. Fra Mariano Fetti, once a lay brother
of S. Marco, who had gone over to the Medici after Savonarola's death,
and had kept so much in favour with Pope Leo X. as to obtain the office
of the Seals (del Piombo), [Footnote: An office for appending seals to
papal documents. Fra Mariano Fetti was elected to it in 1514, after
Bramante, the architect; Sebastiano del Piombo succeeded him.] was
pleased to be considered a patron of art; and welcoming Fra Bartolommeo
to Rome, he gave him a commission for two large figures of S. Peter and
S. Paul for his church of S. Silvestro. The cartoons of these pictures
are now in the Belle Arti of Florence; they are grand and majestic
figures, admirably draped. S. Peter holds his keys and a book; S. Paul
rests on his sword. In executing them in colour, he made some
improvements, especially in the head and hand of S. Peter, but he did
not remain long enough in Rome to finish them. "The colour of the first
(S. Peter) is reddish and rather opaque, the shadows of the head being
taken up afresh, and the extremities being by another painter. The head
of the second (S. Paul) is corrected ... but the tone is transparent,
and the execution exclusively that of Fra Bartolommeo. Whoever may have
been employed on the S. Peter, we do not fancy Raphael to have been
that person." This is the opinion of Crowe and Cavalcaselle, [Footnote:
_History of Painting_, vol. iii. chap. xiii. p. 460.] who,
however, seem to have little faith in any works of the Frate at Rome.
Against this we have the chronicles of quaint old Vasari and Rosini;
besides Baldinucci (ch. iv. p. 83), who says, "Raphael gave great
testimony of his esteem when, in after years, he employed his own brush
in Rome to finish a work begun by Fra Bartolommeo in that city and left

His reason for leaving it imperfect was that of ill-health, the air of
Rome not agreeing with him. It seems he brought home _malaria_,
which never entirely left his system, the low fever returning every
year, and being only mitigated by a change to mountain air. He was well
enough at times to resume painting, but never in full health again.
That very summer he was sent to the Hospice of Sta. Maria Maddalena in
Pian di Mugnone, "dove pure non stette in ozio," [Footnote: Rosini,
_Storia della Pittura_, chap, xxvii. p. 245.] where he did not
remain idle. The Hospice stands on a high hill, just the place for
Roman fever to disappear as if by magic for a time, and the patient,
relieved of his lassitude, set to work with energy, aided by Fra
Paolino and Fra Agostino. Many of his frescoes still remain, one of
which is a beautiful _Madonna_, on the wall of the infirmary,
which has since been sawn away from the wall and placed in the
students' chapel in San Marco, Florence. [Footnote: A document of the
Hospice records these paintings, and dates them 10th of July, 1514.
Padre Marchese, _Memorie_, &c., vol. ii. p. 610.]

He returned to Florence for the winter, and with renewed vigour
produced his _San Sebastian_, a splendid study from the nude,
which shows the influence upon him of Michelangelo's paintings in Rome.
The picture was hung in San Marco, but its influence not proving
elevating to the sensuous minds of the Florentines, it was removed to
the chapter-house, and Gio Battista della Palla, the dealer who bought
so many of the best pictures of the time, purchased it to send to the
King of France. Its subsequent fate is not known, although Monsieur
Alaffre, of Toulouse, boasts of its possession. He says his father
bought three paintings which, in the time of the Revolution, had been
taken from the chapel of a royal villa near Paris [Footnote: Padre
Marchese, _Memorie_, &c., vol. ii. note p. 119.], one of which is
the _S. Sebastian_. In design and attitude it corresponds to the
one described by Vasari, the saint being in a niche, surrounded by a
double cornice. The left arm is bound; the right, with its cord
hanging, is upraised in attitude of the faith, so fully expressed in
the beautiful face. Three arrows are fixed in the body, which is nude
except a slight veil across the loins; an angel, also nude, holds the
palm to him. Connoisseurs do not think this painting equal in merit to
the other works of Fra Bartolommeo. It is true it may have been
overrated at the time, for the Frate's chief excellence lay in the
grandeur of his drapery; the test of authenticity for a nude study from
him would lie more in the colouring and handling than in form.

In the early part of 1515 Fra Bartolommeo went to pay his old friend
Santi Pagnini, the Oriental scholar, a visit at the convent of San
Romano, in Lucca, of which he was now prior, passing by Pistoja on
February 17th to sign a contract for an altar-piece to be placed in the
church of San Domenico--a commission from Messer Jacopo Panciatichi.
The price was fixed at 100 gold ducats, and the subject to be the
Madonna and Child, with SS. Paul, John Baptist, and Sebastian. On his
arrival at Lucca he was soon busy with his great work, the _Madonna
della Misericordia_, for the church of San Romano. The composition
of this is full and harmonious. A populace of all ages and conditions,
grouped around the throne of the Madonna, beg her prayers; she,
standing up, seems to gather all their supplications in her hands and
offer them up to heaven, from which, as a vision, Christ appears from a
mass of clouds in act of benediction. Amongst the crowd of supplicants
are some exquisite groups. Sublime inspiration and powerful expression
are shown in the whole work. On his return he stayed again at Pistoja,
where he painted a fresco of a _Madonna_ on a wall of the convent
of San Domenico; this, which has since been sawn from the wall, is at
present in the church of the same convent, and though much injured, is
a very light and tender bit of colouring and expression. It would seem
that the altar-piece for the same church, spoken of above, was never
finished, as no traces of it are to be found.

In October, 1515, we again find him at Pian di Mugnone; no doubt the
summer heats had induced a return of his fever. Here, again improving
in health, he painted a charming _Annunciation_ in fresco, full of
life and eagerness on the part of the angel, and joy on the Virgin. He
did not remain long, for before the end of the autumn he returned to
visit the home of his youth and see his paternal uncle, Giusto, at
Lastruccio, near Prato. We can imagine the meeting between him and his
relatives, and how the little Paolo, son of Vito, being told to guess
who he was, said, "Bis Zio Bartolommeo," [Footnote: Padre Marchese,
_Memorie_, &c., vol. ii. chap. vii. pp. 139, 140.] for which he
was much applauded. And when all the country relatives hoped to see him
again soon, how the Frate said that would be uncertain, because the
King of France had sent for him, and with what awe and family pride
they would have looked at him! But instead of going to France for the
glory of art, he was returning to Florence to sorrow. His life-long
friend, Mariotto Albertinelli, had been brought home on a litter from
La Quercia, near Viterbo, and now lay on his death-bed; and what his
life had lacked in religion, the prayers of his friend would go far to
atone for at his death.

While Fra Bartolommeo had been ailing, Albertinelli had also paid his
visit to the great city, and seen the two great rivals there. He went
from Viterbo, where he had been to finish colouring a work of the
Frate's left unfinished, and also to paint some frescoes in the convent
of La Quercia, near that town. Being so near Borne, he was seized with
a great desire to see it, and left his picture for that purpose.
Probably Fra Bartolommeo had given him an introduction to his friend
and patron, for Fra Mariano Fetti gave Albertinelli a commission to
paint a _Marriage of S. Catherine_ for his church, which he
completed, and then left Rome at once. Nothing is known of the
impressions made on him by the works of the two great masters, and
unfortunately his death occurred too soon after for his own style to
have given any evidence of their influence.

A Giostra, at Viterbo, proved a very strong attraction to his pleasure-
loving mind. This "Giostra," which the translators of Vasari seem to
find so "obscure," [Footnote: Vasari's _Lives_, vol. ii. p. 470.]
was no doubt one of those festivals revived by the Medici, in which
mounted cavaliers ride with a lance at a suspended Saracen's head,
striking it at full gallop. Desirous of appearing to advantage before
the eyes of her whom he had elected his queen, he forgot his mature
age, and rushed into the jousts with all the energies of a youth, but
alas! fell ill from over-exertion. Fearing the malarious air was not
good for him, he had a litter made, and was taken to Florence, where
Fra Bartolommeo placed himself at his bedside, soothing his last
moments, and leading him as far heavenward as he could. When
Albertinelli died, on the 5th of November, 1515, his friend followed
him to an honourable interment in S. Piero Maggiore.

After Albertinelli's death, the Frate soared to greater heights of
genius than before.

The year 1516 marks the birth of his grandest masterpieces, first the
picture in the Pitti Palace called by Cavalcaselle a _Resurrection_, but
which is more truly an allegorical impersonation of the Saviour. It was
ordered by a rich merchant, Salvadore Billi, to place in a chapel which
Pietro Roselli had adorned with marbles in the church of the "Annunciata."
He paid 100 ducats in gold for it.

In its original state the picture was a complete allegory of _Christ
as the centre of Religion_, between two prophets in heaven, and four
apostles, two at each side--beneath him two angels support the world.
The prophets have been removed, and are placed in the Tribune of the
Uffizi; thus the picture as it stands loses half its meaning. The
Christ is a fine nude figure standing in a niche, and in it Fra
Bartolommeo has solved the problem of obtaining complete relief almost
in monochrome, so little do the lights of the flesh tints, and the warm
yellowish tinge of the background differ from each other. All the
positive colour is in the drapery of the saints, one in red and green,
and another in red and blue. The two angels are exquisitely drawn, and
contrast well in their natural innocence with the sentimental pair in
Raphael's _Madonna of the Baldacchino_ on the same wall of the
Pitti Palace.

San Marco was rich in frescoes of the _Madonna and Child_, two of
which are still in the chapel of the convent, and two in the Belle
Arti. Some of these are charming in expression, the children clinging
round the mother's neck in a true childish _abandon_ of affection.
What a tender feeling these monk artists had for the spirit of
maternity! Perhaps by being debarred from the contemplation of maternal
love in its humanity, they more clearly comprehended its divinity. Look
at the little round-backed nestling child in Fra Angelico's _Madonna
della Stella_, imperfect as it is in form, the whole spirit of love
is in it. He does not give only the mother-love for the child, but the
child-love for the mother, which is more divine, and the same feeling
is seen in the _Madonna_ of Fra Bartolommeo.

This year, 1516, also marks a journey to a hermitage of his order at
Lecceto, between Florence and Pisa. Here he painted a _Deposition
from the Cross_ on the wall of the Hospice, and two heads of Christ
on two tiles above the doors.

A great many of his works are in private collections in Florence; one
of the most lovely is the _Pieta_, painted for Agnolo Doni, and
now in the Corsini Gallery at Rome.

All this time the great painting of the _Enthronement of the
Virgin_, ordered by Pier Soderini, before his exile, was still
unfinished. He seems to have taken it in hand again about this time,
but being attacked with another access of fever, again left it, and the
painting, shadowed in with black, remains in the Uffizi. Lanzi writes
of it that, imperfect as it is, it may be regarded as a true lesson in
art, and bears the same relation to painting as the clay model to the
finished statue, the genius of the inventor being impressed upon it.
Messrs. Crowe and Cavalcaselle [Footnote: _History of Painting_,
vol. iii. chap. xiii. p. 455.] call this a _Conception_, but
Vasari's old name of the _Patron Saints of Florence_ seems to fit
it best. S. John the Baptist, S. Reparata, S. Zenobio, &c., stand in an
adoring group around the heavenly powers, S. Anna above the Virgin and
infant Christ forming a charming pyramidal group in the midst. The
whole thing is one of Fra Bartolommeo's richest compositions. The
centre of the three monks on the left is said to be a portrait of Fra
Bartolommeo himself, and to be the original from which the only known
portrait of him is taken (_see Frontispiece_). Fra Bartolommeo
left another work also unfinished, an apotheosis of a saint, which is
now at Panshanger. This is supposed to have been a small ideal prepared
for a picture to celebrate the canonisation of S. Antonino, which Leo
X. had almost promised the brethren of S. Marco on his triumphant entry
in 1515. The work, if it had been painted in the larger form, would
have been a perfect masterpiece of composition, "a very Beethoven
symphony in colour," if we may judge from the sketch at Panshanger,
where a living crowd groups round the bier of the archbishop, and life,
earnestness, harmony, and richness, are all intense.

So ill was Fra Bartolommeo in 1517 that he was ordered to take the
baths at San Filippo, thence he went for the last time to Pian di
Mugnone, where he painted a _Vision of the Saviour to Mary
Magdalen_, above the door of the chapel. The two figures, nearly
life-size, are at the door of the cave sepulchre. Mary has just
recognised her Lord, and in her ecstasy flings herself forward on her
knees before him. The Saviour is a dignified figure semi-nude, with a
white veil wrapped around him.

In the Pitti Palace, a charming _Pieta_ of Fra Bartolommeo's
occupies a place near the _Pieta_ of Andrea del Sarto, the two
pictures forming a most interesting contrast of style. The kneeling
Virgin and S. John support the head of the prostrate Saviour, S.
Catherine and Mary Magdalen weep at his feet, the latter in an agony of
grief crouches prone on the ground hiding her face. The colouring is
extremely rich, broad masses of full-tone melting softly into deep
shadows. The handling in the flesh-tones of the dead Saviour, as well
as the modelling of form, are most masterly. It is generally supposed
that this was the picture which Bugiardini is said to have coloured
after the master's death; but there is much divergence among Italian
authors both as to whether this was the painting spoken of, and also as
to the meaning of Vasari's words, he using the phrase "finished" in one
place, and "coloured" in another. For charm of colouring and depth of
expression, the _Pieta_ is the most lovely of all the Frate's
works; therefore Bugiardini who was _mediocre_, could not have
outdone his great master. It was not _coloured_ by him. Bocchi
[Footnote: Bocchi, _Bellezze di Firenze_, p. 304.] says there were
two other figures, S. Peter and S. Paul, in the picture, where a
meaningless black shadow stretches across the background; but they were
erased by the antique restorer because they were "troppo deboli." Is it
not likely that if Bugiardini had any hand in the work, it was to
finish these figures?

Returning in the autumn to Florence, Fra Bartolommeo caught a severe
cold, the effects of which were heightened by eating fruit, and after
four days' extreme illness he died on October 8th, 1517, aged 42.

The monks felt his death intensely, and buried him with great honour in
San Marco.

He left to art the most valuable legacy possible--a long list of
masterpieces in which religious feeling is expressed in the very
highest language. In all his works there is not a line or tint which
transgresses against either the sentiment of devotion, or the rules of
art. He stands for ever, almost on a level with the great trio of the
culmination, "possessing Leonardo's grace of colour and more than his
industry, Michelangelo's force with more softness, and Raphael's
sentiment with more devotion;" yet with just the inexpressible want of
that supernatural genius which would have placed him above them all.
His legacy to the world is a series of lessons from the very first
setting of his ideal on paper to its finished development. The germ
exists in the charcoal sketches at the Belle Arti and Uffizi; the
under-shadowing of the subject is seen in the _Patron Saints_ at
the Uffizi.

Many of his drawings are not to be traced. Some were used by Fra
Paolino, his pupil, who at his death passed them to Suor Plautilla
Nelli, a nun in Sta. Caterina, Florence (born 1523, died 1587). When
Baldinucci wrote his work, he said 500 of these were in the possession
of Cavaliere Gaburri.




Of these, little more than the names have come down to us. Vasari
speaks of Benedetto Cianfanini, Gabbriele Rustici, and Fra Paolo
Pistojese; Padre Marchese mentions two monks, Fra Andrea and Fra
Agostino. Of these, the two first never became proficient, and have
left no works behind them. Fra Andrea seems to have been more a
journeyman than scholar, being employed to prepare the panels and lay
on the gilding. Fra Agostino assisted his master, and Fra Paolo in the
subordinate parts of a few frescoes, especially at Luco in the Mugnone.
Fra Paolo is the most known, but chiefly as a far-off imitator of Fra
Bartolommeo, without his mellowness of execution. His pictures are
mostly from his master's designs, which were left him as a legacy, and
this ensures a good composition.

He was born at Pistoja in 1490; his father, Bernardino d' Antonio del
Signoraccio, a second-rate artist, taught him the first principles of
art. His knowledge of drawing caused him to be noticed by Fra
Bartolommeo, when at a very early age he entered the order. He was
removed from Prato to San Marco, Florence, in 1503; and here he found
another friend who assisted his artistic tendencies. This was Fra
Ambrogio della Robbia, [Footnote: Padre Marchese, Memorie, &c., lib.
in. chap. ii. p. 246.] who taught him to model in clay; a specimen of
his work exists in the Church of Sta. Maddalena in Pian di Mugnone,
where are two statues of S. Domenico and Mary Magdalen by his hand.

His best work is a _Crucifixion_ at Siena, dated 1516, which has
been thought to be Fra Bartolommeo's; but though that master was asked
to go and paint it as a memorial of a certain Messer Cherubino Ridolfo,
his many occupations prevented his accepting the commission, and his
disciples, Fra Paolo and Fra Agostino, went in his place. [Footnote:
Padre Marchese, Memorie, &c., lib. in. chap. ii. p. 251.] Possibly the
master supplied the design, which is very harmonious. The Virgin and S.
John stand on each side of the cross, and Saint Catherine of Siena and
Mary Magdalen are prostrate before it. One or two of the female saints
are pleasing, but the nude figure of Christ is hard, exaggerated, and
faulty in drawing.

The artists got thirty-five lire for the work, though the record in the
archives allows that it was worth more. There is an _Assumption_
in the Belle Arti of Florence, of which the design is Fra
Bartolommeo's, but the colouring Fra Paolo's. It was painted for the
Dominican monks at Santa Maria del Sasso, near Bibbiena. The colouring
is hard and weak, the shadows heavy, and not fused well in the half
tints. Two monks on the left are tolerably life-like, probably they

Book of the day: