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The Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti by John Addington Symonds

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of the Loggia, would break the order of the ceremonies practised there
by the Signory and other magistrates. He therefore proposed that the
arch facing the Palazzo (where Donatello's Judith is now) should be
chosen." The three succeeding speakers, people of no great importance,
gave their votes in favour of the chief herald's resolution. Others
followed San Gallo, among whom was the illustrious Lionardo da Vinci.
He thought the statue could be placed under the middle arch of the
Loggia without hindrance to ceremonies of state. Salvestro, a
jeweller, and Filippino Lippi, the painter, were of opinion that the
neighbourhood of the Palazzo should be adopted, but that the precise
spot should be left to the sculptor's choice. Gallieno, an
embroiderer, and David Ghirlandajo, the painter, suggested a new
place--namely, where the lion or Marzocco stood on the Piazza. Antonio
da San Gallo, the architect, and Michelangelo, the goldsmith, father
of Baccio Bandinelli, supported Giuliano da San Gallo's motion. Then
Giovanni Piffero--that is, the father of Benvenuto Cellini--brought
the discussion back to the courtyard of the palace. He thought that in
the Loggia the statue would be only partly seen, and that it would run
risks of injury from scoundrels. Giovanni delle Corniole, the
incomparable gem-cutter, who has left us the best portrait of
Savonarola, voted with the two San Galli, "because he hears the stone
is soft." Piero di Cosimo, the painter, and teacher of Andrea del
Sarto, wound up the speeches with a strong recommendation that the
choice of the exact spot should be left to Michelangelo Buonarroti.
This was eventually decided on, and he elected to have his David set
up in the place preferred by the chief herald--that is to say, upon
the steps of the Palazzo Vecchio, on the right side of the entrance.

The next thing was to get the mighty mass of sculptured marble safely
moved from the Duomo to the Palazzo. On the 1st of April, Simone del
Pollajuolo, called Il Cronaca, was commissioned to make the necessary
preparations; but later on, upon the 30th, we find Antonio da San
Gallo, Baccio d'Agnolo, Bernardo della Ciecha, and Michelangelo
associated with him in the work of transportation. An enclosure of
stout beams and planks was made and placed on movable rollers. In the
middle of this the statue hung suspended, with a certain liberty of
swaying to the shocks and lurches of the vehicle. More than forty men
were employed upon the windlasses which drew it slowly forward. In a
contemporary record we possess a full account of the transit: "On the
14th of May 1504, the marble Giant was taken from the Opera. It came
out at 24 o'clock, and they broke the wall above the gateway enough to
let it pass. That night some stones were thrown at the Colossus with
intent to harm it. Watch had to be kept at night; and it made way very
slowly, bound as it was upright, suspended in the air with enormous
beams and intricate machinery of ropes. It took four days to reach the
Piazza, arriving on the 18th at the hour of 12. More than forty men
were employed to make it go; and there were fourteen rollers joined
beneath it, which were changed from hand to hand. Afterwards, they
worked until the 8th of June 1504 to place it on the platform
_(ringhiero)_ where the Judith used to stand. The Judith was removed
and set upon the ground within the palace. The said Giant was the work
of Michelangelo Buonarroti."

Where the masters of Florence placed it, under the direction of its
maker, Michelangelo's great white David stood for more than three
centuries uncovered, open to all injuries of frost and rain, and to
the violence of citizens, until, for the better preservation of this
masterpiece of modern art, it was removed in 1873 to a hall of the
Accademia delle Belle Arti. On the whole, it has suffered very little.
Weather has slightly worn away the extremities of the left foot; and
in 1527, during a popular tumult, the left arm was broken by a huge
stone cast by the assailants of the palace. Giorgio Vasari tells us
how, together with his friend Cecchino Salviati, he collected the
scattered pieces, and brought them to the house of Michelangelo
Salviati, the father of Cecchino. They were subsequently put together
by the care of the Grand Duke Cosimo, and restored to the statue in
the year 1543.


In the David Michelangelo first displayed that quality of
_terribilita_, of spirit-quailing, awe-inspiring force, for which he
afterwards became so famous. The statue imposes, not merely by its
size and majesty and might, but by something vehement in the
conception. He was, however, far from having yet adopted those
systematic proportions for the human body which later on gave an air
of monotonous impressiveness to all his figures. On the contrary, this
young giant strongly recalls the model; still more strongly indeed
than the Bacchus did. Wishing perhaps to adhere strictly to the
Biblical story, Michelangelo studied a lad whose frame was not
developed. The David, to state the matter frankly, is a colossal
hobbledehoy. His body, in breadth of the thorax, depth of the abdomen,
and general stoutness, has not grown up to the scale of the enormous
hands and feet and heavy head. We feel that he wants at least two
years to become a fully developed man, passing from adolescence to the
maturity of strength and beauty. This close observance of the
imperfections of the model at a certain stage of physical growth is
very remarkable, and not altogether pleasing in a statue more than
nine feet high. Both Donatello and Verocchio had treated their Davids
in the same realistic manner, but they were working on a small scale
and in bronze. I insist upon this point, because students of
Michelangelo have been apt to overlook his extreme sincerity and
naturalism in the first stages of his career.

Having acknowledged that the head of David is too massive and the
extremities too largely formed for ideal beauty, hypercriticism can
hardly find fault with the modelling and execution of each part. The
attitude selected is one of great dignity and vigour. The heroic boy,
quite certain of victory, is excited by the coming contest. His brows
are violently contracted, the nostrils tense and quivering, the eyes
fixed keenly on the distant Philistine. His larynx rises visibly, and
the sinews of his left thigh tighten, as though the whole spirit of
the man were braced for a supreme endeavour. In his right hand, kept
at a just middle point between the hip and knee, he holds the piece of
wood on which his sling is hung. The sling runs round his back, and
the centre of it, where the stone bulges, is held with the left hand,
poised upon the left shoulder, ready to be loosed. We feel that the
next movement will involve the right hand straining to its full extent
the sling, dragging the stone away, and whirling it into the air;
when, after it has sped to strike Goliath in the forehead, the whole
lithe body of the lad will have described a curve, and recovered its
perpendicular position on the two firm legs. Michelangelo invariably
chose some decisive moment; in the action he had to represent; and
though he was working here under difficulties, owing to the
limitations of the damaged block at his disposal, he contrived to
suggest the imminence of swift and sudden energy which shall disturb
the equilibrium of his young giant's pose. Critics of this statue,
deceived by its superficial resemblance to some Greek athletes at
rest, have neglected the candid realism of the momentary act
foreshadowed. They do not understand the meaning of the sling. Even
Heath Wilson, for instance, writes: "The massive shoulders are thrown
back, the right arm is pendent, and _the right hand grasps resolutely
the stone_ with which the adversary is to be slain." This entirely
falsifies the sculptor's motive, misses the meaning of the sling,
renders the broad strap behind the back superfluous, and changes into
mere plastic symbolism what Michelangelo intended to be a moment
caught from palpitating life.

It has often been remarked that David's head is modelled upon the type
of Donatello's S. George at Orsanmichele. The observation is just; and
it suggests a comment on the habit Michelangelo early formed of
treating the face idealistically, however much he took from study of
his models. Vasari, for example, says that he avoided portraiture, and
composed his faces by combining several individuals. We shall see a
new ideal type of the male head emerge in a group of statues, among
which the most distinguished is Giuliano de' Medici at San Lorenzo. We
have already seen a female type created in the Madonnas of S. Peter's
and Notre Dame at Bruges. But this is not the place to discuss
Michelangelo's theory of form in general. That must be reserved until
we enter the Sistine Chapel, in order to survey the central and the
crowning product of his genius in its prime.

We have every reason to believe that Michelangelo carved his David
with no guidance but drawings and a small wax model about eighteen
inches in height. The inconvenience of this method, which left the
sculptor to wreak his fury on the marble with mallet and chisel, can
be readily conceived. In a famous passage, disinterred by M. Mariette
from a French scholar of the sixteenth century, we have this account
of the fiery master's system: "I am able to affirm that I have seen
Michelangelo, at the age of more than sixty years, and not the
strongest for his time of life, knock off more chips from an extremely
hard marble in one quarter of an hour than three young stone-cutters
could have done in three or four--a thing quite incredible to one who
has not seen it. He put such impetuosity and fury into his work that I
thought the whole must fly to pieces; hurling to the ground at one
blow great fragments three or four inches thick, shaving the line so
closely that if he had overpassed it by a hair's-breadth he ran the
risk of losing all, since one cannot mend a marble afterwards or
repair mistakes, as one does with figures of clay and stucco." It is
said that, owing to this violent way of attacking his marble,
Michelangelo sometimes bit too deep into the stone, and had to abandon
a promising piece of sculpture. This is one of the ways of accounting
for his numerous unfinished statues. Accordingly a myth has sprung up
representing the great master as working in solitude upon huge blocks,
with nothing but a sketch in wax before him. Fact is always more
interesting than fiction; and, while I am upon the topic of his
method, I will introduce what Cellini has left written on this
subject. In his treatise on the Art of Sculpture, Cellini lays down
the rule that sculptors in stone ought first to make a little model
two palms high, and after this to form another as large as the statue
will have to be. He illustrates this by a critique of his illustrious
predecessors. "Albeit many able artists rush boldly on the stone with
the fierce force of mallet and chisel, relying on the little model and
a good design, yet the result is never found by them to be so
satisfactory as when they fashion the model on a large scale. This is
proved by our Donatello, who was a Titan in the art, and afterwards by
the stupendous Michelangelo, who worked in both ways. Discovering
latterly that the small models fell far short of what his excellent
genius demanded, he adopted the habit of making most careful models
exactly of the same size as the marble statue was to be. This we have
seen with our own eyes in the Sacristy of S. Lorenzo. Next, when a man
is satisfied with his full-sized model, he must take charcoal, and
sketch out the main view of his figure on the marble in such wise that
it shall be distinctly traced; for he who has not previously settled
his design may sometimes find himself deceived by the chiselling
irons. Michelangelo's method in this matter was the best. He used
first to sketch in the principal aspect; and then to begin work by
removing the surface stone upon that side, just as if he intended to
fashion a figure in half-relief; and thus he went on gradually
uncovering the rounded form."

Vasari, speaking of four rough-hewn Captives, possibly the figures now
in a grotto of the Boboli Gardens, says: They are well adapted for
teaching a beginner how to extract statues from the marble without
injury to the stone. The safe method which they illustrate may be
described as follows. You first take a model in wax or some other hard
material, and place it lying in a vessel full of water. The water, by
its nature, presents a level surface; so that, if you gradually lift
the model, the higher parts are first exposed, while the lower parts
remain submerged; and, proceeding thus, the whole round shape at
length appears above the water. Precisely in the same way ought
statues to be hewn out from the marble with the chisel; first
uncovering the highest surfaces, and proceeding to disclose the
lowest. This method was followed by Michelangelo while blocking out
the Captives, and therefore his Excellency the Duke was fain to have
them used as models by the students in his Academy. It need hardly be
remarked that the ingenious process of "pointing the marble" by means
of the "pointing machine" and "scale-stones," which is at present
universally in use among sculptors, had not been invented in the
sixteenth century.


I cannot omit a rather childish story which Vasari tells about the
David. After it had been placed upon its pedestal before the palace,
and while the scaffolding was still there, Piero Soderini, who loved
and admired Michelangelo, told him that he thought the nose too large.
The sculptor immediately ran up the ladder till he reached a point
upon the level of the giant's shoulder. He then took his hammer and
chisel, and, having concealed some dust of marble in the hollow of his
hand, pretended to work off a portion from the surface of the nose. In
reality he left it as he found it; but Soderini, seeing the marble
dust fall scattering through the air, thought that his hint had been
taken. When, therefore, Michelangelo called down to him, "Look at it
now!" Soderini shouted up in reply, "I am far more pleased with it;
you have given life to the statue."

At this time Piero Soderini, a man of excellent parts and sterling
character, though not gifted with that mixture of audacity and cunning
which impressed the Renaissance imagination, was Gonfalonier of the
Republic. He had been elected to the supreme magistracy for life, and
was practically Doge of Florence. His friendship proved on more than
one occasion of some service to Michelangelo; and while the gigantic
David was in progress he gave the sculptor a new commission, the
history of which must now engage us. The Florentine envoys to France
had already written in June 1501 from Lyons, saying that Pierre de
Rohan, Marechal de Gie, who stood high in favour at the court of Louis
XII., greatly desired a copy of the bronze David by Donatello in the
courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio. He appeared willing to pay for it,
but the envoys thought that he expected to have it as a present. The
French alliance was a matter of the highest importance to Florence,
and at this time the Republic was heavily indebted to the French
crown. Soderini, therefore, decided to comply with the Marshal's
request, and on the 12th of August 1502 Michelangelo undertook to
model a David of two cubits and a quarter within six months. In the
bronze-casting he was assisted by a special master, Benedetto da
Rovezzano. During the next two years a brisk correspondence was kept
up between the envoys and the Signory about the statue, showing the
Marshal's impatience. Meanwhile De Rohan became Duke of Nemours in
1503 by his marriage with a sister of Louis d'Armagnac, and shortly
afterwards he fell into disgrace. Nothing more was to be expected from
him at the court of Blois. But the statue was in progress, and the
question arose to whom it should be given. The choice of the Signory
fell on Florimond Robertet, secretary of finance, whose favour would
be useful to the Florentines in their pecuniary transactions with the
King. A long letter from the envoy, Francesco Pandolfini, in September
1505, shows that Robertet's mind had been sounded on the subject; and
we gather from a minute of the Signory, dated November 6, 1508, that
at last the bronze David, weighing about 800 pounds, had been "packed
in the name of God" and sent to Signa on its way to Leghorn. Robertet
received it in due course, and placed it in the courtyard of his
chateau of Bury, near Blois. Here it remained for more than a century,
when it was removed to the chateau of Villeroy. There it disappeared.
We possess, however, a fine pen-and-ink drawing by the hand of
Michelangelo, which may well have been a design for this second David.
The muscular and naked youth, not a mere lad like the colossal statue,
stands firmly posed upon his left leg with the trunk thrown boldly
back. His right foot rests on the gigantic head of Goliath, and his
left hand, twisted back upon the buttock, holds what seems meant for
the sling. We see here what Michelangelo's conception of an ideal
David would have been when working under conditions more favourable
than the damaged block afforded. On the margin of the page the
following words may be clearly traced: "Davicte cholla fromba e io
chollarcho Michelagniolo,"--David with the sling, and I with the bow.

Meanwhile Michelangelo received a still more important commission on
the 24th of April 1503. The Consuls of the Arte della Lana and the
Operai of the Duomo ordered twelve Apostles, each 4-1/4 cubits high,
to be carved out of Carrara marble and placed inside the church. The
sculptor undertook to furnish one each year, the Board of Works
defraying all expenses, supplying the costs of Michelangelo's living
and his assistants, and paying him two golden florins a month. Besides
this, they had a house built for him in the Borgo Pinti after Il
Cronaca's design. He occupied this house free of charges while he was
in Florence, until it became manifest that the contract of 1503 would
never be carried out. Later on, in March 1508, the tenement was let on
lease to him and his heirs. But he only held it a few months; for on
the 15th of June the lease was cancelled, and the house transferred to
Sigismondo Martelli.

The only trace surviving of these twelve Apostles is the huge
blocked-out S. Matteo, now in the courtyard of the Accademia. Vasari
writes of it as follows: "He also began a statue in marble of S.
Matteo, which, though it is but roughly hewn, shows perfection of
design, and teaches sculptors how to extract figures from the stone
without exposing them to injury, always gaining ground by removing the
superfluous material, and being able to withdraw or change in case of
need." This stupendous sketch or shadow of a mighty form is indeed
instructive for those who would understand Michelangelo's method. It
fully illustrates the passages quoted above from Cellini and Vasari,
showing how a design of the chief view of the statue must have been
chalked upon the marble, and how the unfinished figure gradually
emerged into relief. Were we to place it in a horizontal position on
the ground, that portion of a rounded form which has been disengaged
from the block would emerge just in the same way as a model from a
bath of water not quite deep enough to cover it. At the same time we
learn to appreciate the observations of Vigenere while we study the
titanic chisel-marks, grooved deeply in the body of the stone, and
carried to the length of three or four inches. The direction of these
strokes proves that Michelangelo worked equally with both hands, and
the way in which they are hatched and crossed upon the marble reminds
one of the pen-drawing of a bold draughtsman. The mere
surface-handling of the stone has remarkable affinity in linear effect
to a pair of the master's pen-designs for a naked man, now in the
Louvre. On paper he seems to hew with the pen, on marble to sketch
with the chisel. The saint appears literally to be growing out of his
stone prison, as though he were alive and enclosed there waiting to be
liberated. This recalls Michelangelo's fixed opinion regarding
sculpture, which he defined as the art "that works by force of taking
away." In his writings we often find the idea expressed that a statue,
instead of being a human thought invested with external reality by
stone, is more truly to be regarded as something which the sculptor
seeks and finds inside his marble--a kind of marvellous discovery.
Thus he says in one of his poems: "Lady, in hard and craggy stone the
mere removal of the surface gives being to a figure, which ever grows
the more the stone is hewn away." And again--

_The best of artists hath no thought to show
Which the rough stone in its superfluous shell
Doth not include: to break the marble spell
Is all the hand that serves the brain can do._

S. Matthew seems to palpitate with life while we scrutinise the
amorphous block; and yet there is little there more tangible than some
such form as fancy loves to image in the clouds.

To conclude what I have said in this section about Michelangelo's
method of working on the marble, I must confirm what I have stated
about his using both left and right hand while chiselling. Raffaello
da Montelupo, who was well acquainted with him personally, informs us
of the fact: "Here I may mention that I am in the habit of drawing
with my left hand, and that once, at Rome, while I was sketching the
Arch of Trajan from the Colosseum, Michelangelo and Sebastiano del
Piombo, both of whom were naturally left-handed (although they did not
work with the left hand excepting when they wished to use great
strength), stopped to see me, and expressed great wonder, no sculptor
or painter ever having done so before me, as far as I know."


If Vasari can be trusted, it was during this residence at Florence,
when his hands were so fully occupied, that Michelangelo found time to
carve the two _tondi_, Madonnas in relief enclosed in circular spaces,
which we still possess. One of them, made for Taddeo Taddei, is now at
Burlington House, having been acquired by the Royal Academy through
the medium of Sir George Beaumont. This ranks among the best things
belonging to that Corporation. The other, made for Bartolommeo Pitti,
will be found in the Palazzo del Bargello at Florence. Of the two,
that of our Royal Academy is the more ambitious in design, combining
singular grace and dignity in the Madonna with action playfully
suggested in the infant Christ and little S. John. That of the
Bargello is simpler, more tranquil, and more stately. The one recalls
the motive of the Bruges Madonna, the other almost anticipates the
Delphic Sibyl. We might fancifully call them a pair of native pearls
or uncut gems, lovely by reason even of their sketchiness. Whether by
intention, as some critics have supposed, or for want of time to
finish, as I am inclined to believe, these two reliefs are left in a
state of incompleteness which is highly suggestive. Taking the Royal
Academy group first, the absolute roughness of the groundwork supplies
an admirable background to the figures, which seem to emerge from it
as though the whole of them were there, ready to be disentangled. The
most important portions of the composition--Madonna's head and throat,
the drapery of her powerful breast, on which the child Christ
reclines, and the naked body of the boy--are wrought to a point which
only demands finish. Yet parts of these two figures remain
undetermined. Christ's feet are still imprisoned in the clinging
marble; His left arm and hand are only indicated, and His right hand
is resting on a mass of broken stone, which hides a portion of His
mother's drapery, but leaves the position of her hand uncertain. The
infant S. John, upright upon his feet, balancing the chief group, is
hazily subordinate. The whole of his form looms blurred through the
veil of stone, and what his two hands and arms are doing with the
hidden right arm and hand of the Virgin may hardly be conjectured. It
is clear that on this side of the composition the marble was to have
been more deeply cut, and that we have the highest surfaces of the
relief brought into prominence at those points where, as I have said,
little is wanting but the finish of the graver and the file. The
Bargello group is simpler and more intelligible. Its composition by
masses being quite apparent, we can easily construct the incomplete
figure of S. John in the background. What results from the study of
these two circular sketches in marble is that, although Michelangelo
believed all sculpture to be imperfect in so far as it approached the
style of painting, yet he did not disdain to labour in stone with
various planes of relief which should produce the effect of
chiaroscuro. Furthermore, they illustrate what Cellini and Vasari have
already taught us about his method. He refused to work by piecemeal,
but began by disengaging the first, the second, then the third
surfaces, following a model and a drawing which controlled the
cutting. Whether he preferred to leave off when his idea was
sufficiently indicated, or whether his numerous engagements prevented
him from excavating the lowest surfaces, and lastly polishing the
whole, is a question which must for ever remain undecided. Considering
the exquisite elaboration given to the Pieta of the Vatican, the
Madonna at Bruges, the Bacchus and the David, the Moses and parts of
the Medicean monuments, I incline to think that, with time enough at
his disposal, he would have carried out these rounds in all their
details. A criticism he made on Donatello, recorded for us by Condivi,
to the effect that this great master's works lost their proper effect
on close inspection through a want of finish, confirms my opinion.
Still there is no doubt that he must have been pleased, as all true
lovers of art are with the picturesque effect--an effect as of things
half seen in dreams or emergent from primeval substances--which the
imperfection of the craftsman's labour leaves upon the memory.

At this time Michelangelo's mind seems to have been much occupied with
circular compositions. He painted a large Holy Family of this shape
for his friend Angelo Doni, which may, I think, be reckoned the only
easel-picture attributable with absolute certainty to his hand.
Condivi simply says that he received seventy ducats for this fine
work. Vasari adds one of his prattling stories to the effect that Doni
thought forty sufficient; whereupon Michelangelo took the picture
back, and said he would not let it go for less than a hundred: Doni
then offered the original sum of seventy, but Michelangelo replied
that if he was bent on bargaining he should not pay less than 140. Be
this as it may, one of the most characteristic products of the
master's genius came now into existence. The Madonna is seated in a
kneeling position on the ground; she throws herself vigorously
backward, lifting the little Christ upon her right arm, and presenting
him to a bald-headed old man, S. Joseph, who seems about to take him
in his arms. This group, which forms a tall pyramid, is balanced on
both sides by naked figures of young men reclining against a wall at
some distance, while a remarkably ugly little S. John can be discerned
in one corner. There is something very powerful and original in the
composition of this sacred picture, which, as in the case of all
Michelangelo's early work, develops the previous traditions of Tuscan
art on lines which no one but himself could have discovered. The
central figure of the Madonna, too, has always seemed to me a thing of
marvellous beauty, and of stupendous power in the strained attitude
and nobly modelled arms. It has often been asked what the male nudes
have got to do with the subject. Probably Michelangelo intended in
this episode to surpass a Madonna by Luca Signorelli, with whose
genius he obviously was in sympathy, and who felt, like him, the
supreme beauty of the naked adolescent form. Signorelli had painted a
circular Madonna with two nudes in the landscape distance for Lorenzo
de' Medici. The picture is hung now in the gallery of the Uffizi. It
is enough perhaps to remark that Michelangelo needed these figures for
his scheme, and for filling the space at his disposal. He was either
unable or unwilling to compose a background of trees, meadows, and
pastoral folk in the manner of his predecessors. Nothing but the
infinite variety of human forms upon a barren stage of stone or arid
earth would suit his haughty sense of beauty. The nine persons who
make up the picture are all carefully studied from the life, and bear
a strong Tuscan stamp. S. John is literally ignoble, and Christ is a
commonplace child. The Virgin Mother is a magnificent _contadina_ in
the plenitude of adult womanhood. Those, however, who follow Mr.
Ruskin in blaming Michelangelo for carelessness about the human face
and head, should not fail to notice what sublime dignity and grace he
has communicated to his model here. In technical execution the Doni
Madonna is faithful to old Florentine usage, but lifeless and
unsympathetic. We are disagreeably reminded by every portion of the
surface that Lionardo's subtle play of tones and modulated shades,
those _sfumature_, as Italians call them, which transfer the mystic
charm of nature to the canvas, were as yet unknown to the great
draughtsman. There is more of atmosphere, of colour suggestion, and of
chiaroscuro in the marble _tondi_ described above. Moreover, in spite
of very careful modelling, Michelangelo has failed to make us feel the
successive planes of his composition. The whole seems flat, and each
distance, instead of being graduated, starts forward to the eye. He
required, at this period of his career, the relief of sculpture in
order to express the roundness of the human form and the relative
depth of objects placed in a receding order. If anything were needed
to make us believe the story of his saying to Pope Julius II. that
sculpture and not painting was his trade, this superb design, so
deficient in the essential qualities of painting proper, would
suffice. Men infinitely inferior to himself in genius and sense of
form, a Perugino, a Francia, a Fra Bartolommeo, an Albertinelli,
possessed more of the magic which evokes pictorial beauty.
Nevertheless, with all its aridity, rigidity, and almost repulsive
hardness of colour, the Doni Madonna ranks among the great pictures of
the world. Once seen it will never be forgotten: it tyrannises and
dominates the imagination by its titanic power of drawing. No one,
except perhaps Lionardo, could draw like that, and Lionardo would not
have allowed his linear scheme to impose itself so remorselessly upon
the mind.


Just at this point of his development, Michelangelo was brought into
competition with Lionardo da Vinci, the only living rival worthy of
his genius. During the year 1503 Piero Soderini determined to adorn
the hall of the Great Council in the Palazzo Vecchio with huge mural
frescoes, which should represent scenes in Florentine history.
Documents regarding the commencement of these works and the contracts
made with the respective artists are unfortunately wanting. But it
appears that Da Vinci received a commission for one of the long walls
in the autumn of that year. We have items of expenditure on record
which show that the Municipality of Florence assigned him the Sala del
Papa at S. Maria Novella before February 1504, and were preparing the
necessary furniture for the construction of his Cartoon. It seems that
he was hard at work upon the 1st of April, receiving fifteen golden
florins a month for his labour. The subject which he chose to treat
was the battle of Anghiari in 1440, when the Florentine mercenaries
entirely routed the troops of Filippo Maria Visconti, led by Niccolo
Piccinino, one of the greatest generals of his age. In August 1504
Soderini commissioned Michelangelo to prepare Cartoons for the
opposite wall of the great Sala, and assigned to him a workshop in the
Hospital of the Dyers at S. Onofrio. A minute of expenditure, under
date October 31, 1504, shows that the paper for the Cartoon had been
already provided; and Michelangelo continued to work upon it until his
call to Rome at the beginning of 1505. Lionardo's battle-piece
consisted of two groups on horseback engaged in a fierce struggle for
a standard. Michelangelo determined to select a subject which should
enable him to display all his power as the supreme draughtsman of the
nude. He chose an episode from the war with Pisa, when, on the 28th of
July 1364, a band of 400 Florentine soldiers were surprised bathing by
Sir John Hawkwood and his English riders. It goes by the name of the
Battle of Pisa, though the event really took place at Cascina on the
Arno, some six miles above that city.

We have every reason to regard the composition of this Cartoon as the
central point in Michelangelo's life as an artist. It was the
watershed, so to speak, which divided his earlier from his later
manner; and if we attach any value to the critical judgment of his
enthusiastic admirer, Cellini, even the roof of the Sistine fell short
of its perfection. Important, however, as it certainly is in the
history of his development, I must defer speaking of it in detail
until the end of the next chapter. For some reason or other, unknown
to us, he left his work unfinished early in 1505, and went, at the
Pope's invitation, to Rome. When he returned, in the ensuing year, to
Florence, he resumed and completed the design. Some notion of its size
may be derived from what we know about the material supplied for
Lionardo's Cartoon. This, say Crowe and Cavalcaselle, "was made up of
one ream and twenty-nine quires, or about 288 square feet of royal
folio paper, the mere pasting of which necessitated a consumption of
eighty-eight pounds of flour, the mere lining of which required three
pieces of Florentine linen."

Condivi, summing up his notes of this period spent by Michelangelo at
Florence, says: "He stayed there some time without working to much
purpose in his craft, having taken to the study of poets and
rhetoricians in the vulgar tongue, and to the composition of sonnets
for his pleasure." It is difficult to imagine how Michelangelo, with
all his engagements, found the leisure to pursue these literary
amusements. But Condivi's biography is the sole authentic source which
we possess for the great master's own recollections of his past life.
It is, therefore, not improbable that in the sentence I have quoted we
may find some explanation of the want of finish observable in his
productions at this point. Michelangelo was, to a large extent, a
dreamer; and this single phrase throws light upon the expanse of time,
the barren spaces, in his long laborious life. The poems we now
possess by his pen are clearly the wreck of a vast multitude; and most
of those accessible in manuscript and print belong to a later stage of
his development. Still the fact remains that in early manhood he
formed the habit of conversing with writers of Italian and of
fashioning his own thoughts into rhyme. His was a nature capable
indeed of vehement and fiery activity, but by constitution somewhat
saturnine and sluggish, only energetic when powerfully stimulated; a
meditative man, glad enough to be inert when not spurred forward on
the path of strenuous achievement. And so, it seems, the literary bent
took hold upon him as a relief from labour, as an excuse for temporary
inaction. In his own art, the art of design, whether this assumed the
form of sculpture or of painting or of architecture, he did nothing
except at the highest pressure. All his accomplished work shows signs
of the intensest cerebration. But he tried at times to slumber, sunk
in a wise passiveness. Then he communed with the poets, the prophets,
and the prose-writers of his country. We can well imagine, therefore,
that, tired with the labours of the chisel or the brush, he gladly
gave himself to composition, leaving half finished on his easel things
which had for him their adequate accomplishment.

I think it necessary to make these suggestions, because, in my
opinion, Michelangelo's inner life and his literary proclivities have
been hitherto too much neglected in the scheme of his psychology.
Dazzled by the splendour of his work, critics are content to skip
spaces of months and years, during which the creative genius of the
man smouldered. It is, as I shall try to show, in those intervals,
dimly revealed to us by what remains of his poems and his
correspondence, that the secret of this man, at once so tardy and so
energetic; has to be discovered.

A great master of a different temperament, less solitary, less
saturnine, less sluggish, would have formed a school, as Raffaello
did. Michelangelo formed no school, and was incapable of confiding the
execution of his designs to any subordinates. This is also a point of
the highest importance to insist upon. Had he been other than he
was--a gregarious man, contented with the _a peu pres_ in art--he
might have sent out all those twelve Apostles for the Duomo from his
workshop. Raffaello would have done so; indeed, the work which bears
his name in Rome could not have existed except under these conditions.
Now nothing is left to us of the twelve Apostles except a rough-hewn
sketch of S. Matthew. Michelangelo was unwilling or unable to organise
a band of craftsmen fairly interpretative of his manner. When his own
hand failed, or when he lost the passion for his labour, he left the
thing unfinished. And much of this incompleteness in his life-work
seems to me due to his being what I called a dreamer. He lacked the
merely business faculty, the power of utilising hands and brains. He
could not bring his genius into open market, and stamp inferior
productions with his countersign. Willingly he retired into the
solitude of his own self, to commune with great poets and to meditate
upon high thoughts, while he indulged the emotions arising from forms
of strength and beauty presented to his gaze upon the pathway of



Among the many nephews whom Sixtus IV. had raised to eminence, the
most distinguished was Giuliano della Rovere, Cardinal of S. Pietro in
Vincoli, and Bishop of Ostia. This man possessed a fiery temper,
indomitable energy, and the combative instinct which takes delight in
fighting for its own sake. Nature intended him for a warrior; and,
though circumstances made him chief of the Church, he discharged his
duties as a Pontiff in the spirit of a general and a conqueror. When
Julius II. was elected in November 1503, it became at once apparent
that he intended to complete what his hated predecessors, the Borgias,
had begun, by reducing to his sway all the provinces over which the
See of Rome had any claims, and creating a central power in Italy.
Unlike the Borgias, however, he entertained no plan of raising his own
family to sovereignty at the expense of the Papal power. The Della
Roveres were to be contented with their Duchy of Urbino, which came to
them by inheritance from the Montefeltri. Julius dreamed of Italy for
the Italians, united under the hegemony of the Supreme Pontiff, who
from Rome extended his spiritual authority and political influence
over the whole of Western Europe. It does not enter into the scheme of
this book to relate the series of wars and alliances in which this
belligerent Pope involved his country, and the final failure of his
policy, so far as the liberation of Italy from the barbarians was
concerned. Suffice it to say, that at the close of his stormy reign he
had reduced the States of the Church to more or less complete
obedience, bequeathing to his successors an ecclesiastical kingdom
which the enfeebled condition of the peninsula at large enabled them
to keep intact.

There was nothing petty or mean in Julius II.; his very faults bore a
grandiose and heroic aspect. Turbulent, impatient, inordinate in his
ambition, reckless in his choice of means, prolific of immense
projects, for which a lifetime would have been too short, he filled
the ten years of his pontificate with a din of incoherent deeds and
vast schemes half accomplished. Such was the man who called
Michelangelo to Rome at the commencement of 1505. Why the sculptor was
willing to leave his Cartoon unfinished, and to break his engagement
with the Operai del Duomo, remains a mystery. It is said that the
illustrious architect, Giuliano da San Gallo, who had worked for
Julius while he was cardinal, and was now his principal adviser upon
matters of art, suggested to the Pope that Buonarroti could serve him
admirably in his ambitious enterprises for the embellishment of the
Eternal City. We do not know for certain whether Julius, when he
summoned Michelangelo from Florence, had formed the design of engaging
him upon a definite piece of work. The first weeks of his residence in
Rome are said to have been spent in inactivity, until at last Julius
proposed to erect a huge monument of marble for his own tomb.

Thus began the second and longest period of Michelangelo's
art-industry. Henceforth he was destined to labour for a series of
Popes, following their whims with distracted energies and a lamentable
waste of time. The incompleteness which marks so much of his
performance was due to the rapid succession of these imperious
masters, each in turn careless about the schemes of his predecessor,
and bent on using the artist's genius for his own profit. It is true
that nowhere but in Rome could Michelangelo have received commissions
on so vast a scale. Nevertheless we cannot but regret the fate which
drove him to consume years of hampered industry upon what Condivi
calls "the tragedy of Julius's tomb," upon quarrying and road-making
for Leo X., upon the abortive plans at S. Lorenzo, and upon
architectural and engineering works, which were not strictly within
his province. At first it seemed as though fortune was about to smile
on him. In Julius he found a patron who could understand and
appreciate his powers. Between the two men there existed a strong bond
of sympathy due to community of temperament. Both aimed at colossal
achievements in their respective fields of action. The imagination of
both was fired by large and simple rather than luxurious and subtle
thoughts. Both were _uomini terribili_, to use a phrase denoting
vigour of character and energy of genius, made formidable by an
abrupt, uncompromising spirit. Both worked with what the Italians call
fury, with the impetuosity of daemonic natures; and both left the
impress of their individuality stamped indelibly upon their age.
Julius, in all things grandiose, resolved to signalise his reign by
great buildings, great sculpture, great pictorial schemes. There was
nothing of the dilettante and collector about him. He wanted creation
at a rapid rate and in enormous quantities. To indulge this craving,
he gathered round him a band of demigods and Titans, led by Bramante,
Raffaello, Michelangelo, and enjoyed the spectacle of a new world of
art arising at his bidding through their industry of brain and hand.


What followed upon Michelangelo's arrival in Rome may be told in
Condivi's words: "Having reached Rome, many months elapsed before
Julius decided on what great work he would employ him. At last it
occurred to him to use his genius in the construction of his own tomb.
The design furnished by Michelangelo pleased the Pope so much that he
sent him off immediately to Carrara, with commission to quarry as much
marble as was needful for that undertaking. Two thousand ducats were
put to his credit with Alamanni Salviati at Florence for expenses. He
remained more than eight months among those mountains, with two
servants and a horse, but without any salary except his keep. One day,
while inspecting the locality, the fancy took him to convert a hill
which commands the sea-shore into a Colossus, visible by mariners
afar. The shape of the huge rock, which lent itself admirably to such
a purpose, attracted him; and he was further moved to emulate the
ancients, who, sojourning in the place peradventure with the same
object as himself, in order to while away the time, or for some other
motive, have left certain unfinished and rough-hewn monuments, which
give a good specimen of their craft. And assuredly he would have
carried out this scheme, if time enough had been at his disposal, or
if the special purpose of his visit to Carrara had permitted. I one
day heard him lament bitterly that he had not done so. Well, then,
after quarrying and selecting the blocks which he deemed sufficient,
he had them brought to the sea, and left a man of his to ship them
off. He returned to Rome, and having stopped some days in Florence on
the way, when he arrived there, he found that part of the marble had
already reached the Ripa. There he had them disembarked, and carried
to the Piazza of S. Peter's behind S. Caterina, where he kept his
lodging, close to the corridor connecting the Palace with the Castle
of S. Angelo. The quantity of stone was enormous, so that, when it was
all spread out upon the square, it stirred amazement in the minds of
most folk, but joy in the Pope's. Julius indeed began to heap favours
upon Michelangelo; for when he had begun to work, the Pope used
frequently to betake himself to his house, conversing there with him
about the tomb, and about other works which he proposed to carry out
in concert with one of his brothers. In order to arrive more
conveniently at Michelangelo's lodgings, he had a drawbridge thrown
across from the corridor, by which he might gain privy access."

The date of Michelangelo's return to Rome is fixed approximately by a
contract signed at Carrara between him and two shipowners of Lavagna.
This deed is dated November 12, 1505. It shows that thirty-four
cartloads of marble were then ready for shipment, together with two
figures weighing fifteen cartloads more. We have a right to assume
that Michelangelo left Carrara soon after completing this transaction.
Allowing, then, for the journey and the halt at Florence, he probably
reached Rome in the last week of that month.


The first act in the tragedy of the sepulchre had now begun, and
Michelangelo was embarked upon one of the mightiest undertakings which
a sovereign of the stamp of Julius ever intrusted to a sculptor of his
titanic energy. In order to form a conception of the magnitude of the
enterprise, I am forced to enter into a discussion regarding the real
nature of the monument. This offers innumerable difficulties, for we
only possess imperfect notices regarding the original design, and two
doubtful drawings belonging to an uncertain period. Still it is
impossible to understand those changes in the Basilica of S. Peter's
which were occasioned by the project of Julius, or to comprehend the
immense annoyances to which the tomb exposed Michelangelo, without
grappling with its details. Condivi's text must serve for guide. This,
in fact, is the sole source of any positive value. He describes the
tomb, as he believed it to have been first planned, in the following

"To give some notion of the monument, I will say that it was intended
to have four faces: two of eighteen cubits, serving for the sides, and
two of twelve for the ends, so that the whole formed one great square
and a half. Surrounding it externally were niches to be filled with
statues, and between each pair of niches stood terminal figures, to
the front of which were attached on certain consoles projecting from
the wall another set of statues bound like prisoners. These
represented the Liberal Arts, and likewise Painting, Sculpture,
Architecture, each with characteristic emblems, rendering their
identification easy. The intention was to show that all the talents
had been taken captive by death, together with Pope Julius, since
never would they find another patron to cherish and encourage them as
he had done. Above these figures ran a cornice, giving unity to the
whole work. Upon the flat surface formed by this cornice were to be
four large statues, one of which, that is, the Moses, now exists at S.
Pietro ad Vincula. And so, arriving at the summit, the tomb ended in a
level space, whereon were two angels who supported a sarcophagus. One
of them appeared to smile, rejoicing that the soul of the Pope had
been received among the blessed spirits; the other seemed to weep, as
sorrowing that the world had been robbed of such a man. From one of
the ends, that is, by the one which was at the head of the monument,
access was given to a little chamber like a chapel, enclosed within
the monument, in the midst of which was a marble chest, wherein the
corpse of the Pope was meant to be deposited. The whole would have
been executed with stupendous finish. In short, the sepulchre included
more than forty statues, not counting the histories in half-reliefs,
made of bronze, all of them pertinent to the general scheme and
representative of the mighty Pontiff's actions."

Vasari's account differs in some minor details from Condivi's, but it
is of no authoritative value. Not having appeared in the edition of
1550, we may regard it as a _rechauffee_ of Condivi, with the usual
sauce provided by the Aretine's imagination. The only addition I can
discover which throws light upon Condivi's narrative is that the
statues in the niches were meant to represent provinces conquered by
Julius. This is important, because it leads us to conjecture that
Vasari knew a drawing now preserved in the Uffizi, and sought, by its
means, to add something to his predecessor's description. The drawing
will occupy our attention shortly; but it may here be remarked that in
1505, the date of the first project, Julius was only entering upon his
conquests. It would have been a gross act of flattery on the part of
the sculptor, a flying in the face of Nemesis on the part of his
patron, to design a sepulchre anticipating length of life and luck
sufficient for these triumphs.

What then Condivi tells us about the first scheme is, that it was
intended to stand isolated in the tribune of S. Peter's; that it
formed a rectangle of a square and half a square; that the podium was
adorned with statues in niches flanked by projecting dadoes supporting
captive arts, ten in number; that at each corner of the platform above
the podium a seated statue was placed, one of which we may safely
identify with the Moses; and that above this, surmounting the whole
monument by tiers, arose a second mass, culminating in a sarcophagus
supported by two angels. He further adds that the tomb was entered at
its extreme end by a door, which led to a little chamber where lay the
body of the Pope, and that bronze bas-reliefs formed a prominent
feature of the total scheme. He reckons that more than forty statues
would have been required to complete the whole design, although he has
only mentioned twenty-two of the most prominent.

More than this we do not know about the first project. We have no
contracts and no sketches that can be referred to the date 1505. Much
confusion has been introduced into the matter under consideration by
the attempt to reconcile Condivi's description with the drawing I have
just alluded to. Heath Wilson even used that drawing to impugn
Condivi's accuracy with regard to the number of the captives, and the
seated figures on the platform. The drawing in question, as we shall
presently see, is of great importance for the subsequent history of
the monument; and I believe that it to some extent preserves the
general aspect which the tomb, as first designed, was intended to
present. Two points about it, however, prevent our taking it as a true
guide to Michelangelo's original conception. One is that it is clearly
only part of a larger scheme of composition. The other is that it
shows a sarcophagus, not supported by angels, but posed upon the
platform. Moreover, it corresponds to the declaration appended in 1513
by Michelangelo to the first extant document we possess about the

Julius died in February 1513, leaving, it is said, to his executors
directions that his sepulchre should not be carried out upon the first
colossal plan. If he did so, they seem at the beginning of their trust
to have disregarded his intentions. Michelangelo expressly states in
one of his letters that the Cardinal of Agen wished to proceed with
the tomb, but on a larger scale. A deed dated May 6, 1513, was signed,
at the end of which Michelangelo specified the details of the new
design. It differed from the former in many important respects, but
most of all in the fact that now the structure was to be attached to
the wall of the church. I cannot do better than translate
Michelangelo's specifications. They run as follows: "Let it be known
to all men that I, Michelangelo, sculptor of Florence, undertake to
execute the sepulchre of Pope Julius in marble, on the commission of
the Cardinal of Agens and the Datary (Pucci), who, after his death,
have been appointed to complete this work, for the sum of 16,500
golden ducats of the Camera; and the composition of the said sepulchre
is to be in the form ensuing: A rectangle visible from three of its
sides, the fourth of which is attached to the wall and cannot be seen.
The front face, that is, the head of this rectangle, shall be twenty
palms in breadth and fourteen in height, the other two, running up
against the wall, shall be thirty-five palms long and likewise
fourteen palms in height. Each of these three sides shall contain two
tabernacles, resting on a basement which shall run round the said
space, and shall be adorned with pilasters, architrave, frieze, and
cornice, as appears in the little wooden model. In each of the said
six tabernacles will be placed two figures about one palm taller than
life (_i.e._, 6-3/4 feet), twelve in all; and in front of each
pilaster which flanks a tabernacle shall stand a figure of similar
size, twelve in all. On the platform above the said rectangular
structure stands a sarcophagus with four feet, as may be seen in the
model, upon which will be Pope Julius sustained by two angels at his
head, with two at his feet; making five figures on the sarcophagus,
all larger than life, that is, about twice the size. Round about the
said sarcophagus will be placed six dadoes or pedestals, on which six
figures of the same dimensions will sit. Furthermore, from the
platform, where it joins the wall, springs a little chapel about
thirty-five palms high (26 feet 3 inches), which shall contain five
figures larger than all the rest, as being farther from the eye.
Moreover, there shall be three histories, either of bronze or of
marble, as may please the said executors, introduced on each face of
the tomb between one tabernacle and another." All this Michelangelo
undertook to execute in seven years for the stipulated sum.

The new project involved thirty-eight colossal statues; and,
fortunately for our understanding of it, we may be said with almost
absolute certainty to possess a drawing intended to represent it. Part
of this is a pen-and-ink sketch at the Uffizi, which has frequently
been published, and part is a sketch in the Berlin Collection. These
have been put together by Professor Middleton of Cambridge, who has
also made out a key-plan of the tomb. With regard to its proportions
and dimensions as compared with Michelangelo's specification, there
remain some difficulties, with which I cannot see that Professor
Middleton has grappled. It is perhaps not improbable, as Heath Wilson
suggested, that the drawing had been thrown off as a picturesque
forecast of the monument without attention to scale. Anyhow, there is
no doubt that in this sketch, so happily restored by Professor
Middleton's sagacity and tact, we are brought close to Michelangelo's
conception of the colossal work he never was allowed to execute. It
not only answers to the description translated above from the
sculptor's own appendix to the contract, but it also throws light upon
the original plan of the tomb designed for the tribune of S. Peter's.
The basement of the podium has been preserved, we may assume, in its
more salient features. There are the niches spoken of by Condivi, with
Vasari's conquered provinces prostrate at the feet of winged
Victories. These are flanked by the terminal figures, against which,
upon projecting consoles, stand the bound captives. At the right hand
facing us, upon the upper platform, is seated Moses, with a different
action of the hands, it is true, from that which Michelangelo finally
adopted. Near him is a female figure, and the two figures grouped upon
the left angle seem to be both female. To some extent these statues
bear out Vasari's tradition that the platform in the first design was
meant to sustain figures of the contemplative and active life of the
soul--Dante's Leah and Rachel.

This great scheme was never carried out. The fragments which may be
safely assigned to it are the Moses at S. Pietro in Vincoli and the
two bound captives of the Louvre; the Madonna and Child, Leah and
Rachel, and two seated statues also at S. Pietro in Vincoli, belong to
the plan, though these have undergone considerable alterations. Some
other scattered fragments of the sculptor's work may possibly be
connected with its execution. Four male figures roughly hewn, which
are now wrought into the rock-work of a grotto in the Boboli Gardens,
together with the young athlete trampling on a prostrate old man
(called the Victory) and the Adonis of the Museo Nazionale at
Florence, have all been ascribed to the sepulchre of Julius in one or
other of its stages. But these attributes are doubtful, and will be
criticised in their proper place and time. Suffice it now to say that
Vasari reports, beside the Moses, Victory, and two Captives at the
Louvre, eight figures for the tomb blocked out by Michelangelo at
Rome, and five blocked out at Florence.

Continuing the history of this tragic undertaking, we come to the year
1516. On the 8th of July in that year, Michelangelo signed a new
contract, whereby the previous deed of 1513 was annulled. Both of the
executors were alive and parties to this second agreement. "A model
was made, the width of which is stated at twenty-one feet, after the
monument had been already sculptured of a width of almost twenty-three
feet. The architectural design was adhered to with the same pedestals
and niches and the same crowning cornice of the first story. There
were to be six statues in front, but the conquered provinces were now
dispensed with. There was also to be one niche only on each flank, so
that the projection of the monument from the wall was reduced more
than half, and there were to be only twelve statues beneath the
cornice and one relief, instead of twenty-four statues and three
reliefs. On the summit of this basement a shrine was to be erected,
within which was placed the effigy of the Pontiff on his sarcophagus,
with two heavenly guardians. The whole of the statues described in
this third contract amount to nineteen." Heath Wilson observes, with
much propriety, that the most singular fact about these successive
contracts is the departure from certain fixed proportions both of the
architectural parts and the statues, involving a serious loss of
outlay and of work. Thus the two Captives of the Louvre became
useless, and, as we know, they were given away to Ruberto Strozzi in a
moment of generosity by the sculptor. The sitting figures detailed in
the deed of 1516 are shorter than the Moses by one foot. The standing
figures, now at S. Pietro in Vincoli, correspond to the
specifications. What makes the matter still more singular is, that
after signing the contract under date July 8, 1516, Michelangelo in
November of the same year ordered blocks of marble from Carrara, with
measurements corresponding to the specifications of the deed of 1513.

The miserable tragedy of the sepulchre dragged on for another sixteen
years. During this period the executors of Julius passed away, and the
Duke Francesco Maria della Rovere replaced them. He complained that
Michelangelo neglected the tomb, which was true, although the fault
lay not with the sculptor, but with the Popes, his taskmasters. Legal
proceedings were instituted to recover a large sum of money, which, it
was alleged, had been disbursed without due work delivered by the
master. Michelangelo had recourse to Clement VII., who, being anxious
to monopolise his labour, undertook to arrange matters with the Duke.
On the 29th of April 1532 a third and solemn contract was signed at
Rome in presence of the Pope, witnessed by a number of illustrious
personages. This third contract involved a fourth design for the tomb,
which Michelangelo undertook to furnish, and at the same time to
execute six statues with his own hand. On this occasion the notion of
erecting it in S. Peter's was finally abandoned. The choice lay
between two other Roman churches, that of S. Maria del Popolo, where
monuments to several members of the Della Rovere family existed, and
that of S. Pietro in Vincoli, from which Julius II. had taken his
cardinal's title. Michelangelo decided for the latter, on account of
its better lighting. The six statues promised by Michelangelo are
stated in the contract to be "begun and not completed, extant at the
present date in Rome or in Florence." Which of the several statues
blocked out for the monument were to be chosen is not stated; and as
there are no specifications in the document, we cannot identify them
with exactness. At any rate, the Moses must have been one; and it is
possible that the Leah and Rachel, Madonna, and two seated statues,
now at S. Pietro, were the other five.

It might have been thought that at last the tragedy had dragged on to
its conclusion. But no; there was a fifth act, a fourth contract, a
fifth design. Paul III. succeeded to Clement VII., and, having seen
the Moses in Michelangelo's workshop, declared that this one statue
was enough for the deceased Pope's tomb. The Duke Francesco Maria
della Rovere died in 1538, and was succeeded by his son, Guidobaldo
II. The new Duke's wife was a granddaughter of Paul III., and this may
have made him amenable to the Pope's influence. At all events, upon
the 20th of August 1542 a final contract was signed, stating that
Michelangelo had been prevented "by just and legitimate impediments
from carrying out" his engagement under date April 29, 1532, releasing
him from the terms of the third deed, and establishing new conditions.
The Moses, finished by the hand of Michelangelo, takes the central
place in this new monument. Five other statues are specified: "to wit,
a Madonna with the child in her arms, which is already finished; a
Sibyl, a Prophet, an Active Life and a Contemplative Life, blocked out
and nearly completed by the said Michelangelo." These four were given
to Raffaello da Montelupo to finish. The reclining portrait-statue of
Julius, which was carved by Maso del Bosco, is not even mentioned in
this contract. But a deed between the Duke's representative and the
craftsmen Montelupo and Urbino exists, in which the latter undertakes
to see that Michelangelo shall retouch the Pope's face.

Thus ended the tragedy of the tomb of Pope Julius II. It is supposed
to have been finally completed in 1545, and was set up where it still
remains uninjured at S. Pietro in Vincoli.


I judged it needful to anticipate the course of events by giving this
brief history of a work begun in 1505, and carried on with so many
hindrances and alterations through forty years of Michelangelo's life.
We shall often have to return to it, since the matter cannot be
lightly dismissed. The tomb of Julius empoisoned Michelangelo's
manhood, hampered his energy, and brought but small if any profit to
his purse. In one way or another it is always cropping up, and may be
said to vex his biographers and the students of his life as much as it
annoyed himself. We may now return to those early days in Rome, when
the project had still a fascination both for the sculptor and his

The old Basilica of S. Peter on the Vatican is said to have been built
during the reign of Constantine, and to have been consecrated in 324
A.D. It was one of the largest of those Roman buildings, measuring 435
feet in length from the great door to the end of the tribune. A
spacious open square or atrium, surrounded by a cloister-portico, gave
access to the church. This, in the Middle Ages, gained the name of the
Paradiso. A kind of tabernacle, in the centre of the square, protected
the great bronze fir-cone, which was formerly supposed to have crowned
the summit of Hadrian's Mausoleum, the Castle of S. Angelo. Dante, who
saw it in the courtyard of S. Peter's, used it as a standard for his
giant Nimrod. He says--

_La faccia sua ml parea lunga e grossa,
Come la pina di San Pietro a Roma.
--(Inf._ xxxi. 58.)

This mother-church of Western Christendom was adorned inside and out
with mosaics in the style of those which may still be seen at Ravenna.
Above the lofty row of columns which flanked the central aisle ran
processions of saints and sacred histories. They led the eye onward to
what was called the Arch of Triumph, separating this portion of the
building from the transept and the tribune. The concave roof of the
tribune itself was decorated with a colossal Christ, enthroned between
S. Peter and S. Paul, surveying the vast spaces of his house: the lord
and master, before whom pilgrims from all parts of Europe came to pay
tribute and to perform acts of homage. The columns were of precious
marbles, stripped from Pagan palaces and temples; and the roof was
tiled with plates of gilded bronze, torn in the age of Heraclius from
the shrine of Venus and of Roma on the Sacred Way.

During the eleven centuries which elapsed between its consecration and
the decree for its destruction, S. Peter's had been gradually enriched
with a series of monuments, inscriptions, statues, frescoes, upon
which were written the annals of successive ages of the Church. Giotto
worked there under Benedict II. in 1340. Pope after Pope was buried
there. In the early period of Renaissance sculpture, Mino da Fiesole,
Pollaiuolo, and Filarete added works in bronze and marble, which blent
the grace of Florentine religious tradition with quaint neo-pagan
mythologies. These treasures, priceless for the historian, the
antiquary, and the artist, were now going to be ruthlessly swept away
at a pontiff's bidding, in order to make room for his haughty and
self-laudatory monument. Whatever may have been the artistic merits of
Michelangelo's original conception for the tomb, the spirit was in no
sense Christian. Those rows of captive Arts and Sciences, those
Victories exulting over prostrate cities, those allegorical colossi
symbolising the mundane virtues of a mighty ruler's character, crowned
by the portrait of the Pope, over whom Heaven rejoiced while Cybele
deplored his loss--all this pomp of power and parade of ingenuity
harmonised but little with the humility of a contrite soul returning
to its Maker and its Judge. The new temple, destined to supersede the
old basilica, embodied an aspect of Latin Christianity which had very
little indeed in common with the piety of the primitive Church. S.
Peter's, as we see it now, represents the majesty of Papal Rome, the
spirit of a secular monarchy in the hands of priests; it is the
visible symbol of that schism between the Teutonic and the Latin
portions of the Western Church which broke out soon after its
foundation, and became irreconcilable before the cross was placed upon
its cupola. It seemed as though in sweeping away the venerable
traditions of eleven hundred years, and replacing Rome's time-honoured
Mother-Church with an edifice bearing the brand-new stamp of hybrid
neo-pagan architecture, the Popes had wished to signalise that rupture
with the past and that atrophy of real religious life which marked the

Julius II. has been severely blamed for planning the entire
reconstruction of his cathedral. It must, however, be urged in his
defence that the structure had already, in 1447, been pronounced
insecure. Nicholas V. ordered his architects, Bernardo Rossellini and
Leo Battista Alberti, to prepare plans for its restoration. It is, of
course, impossible for us to say for certain whether the ancient
fabric could have been preserved, or whether its dilapidation had gone
so far as to involve destruction. Bearing in mind the recklessness of
the Renaissance and the passion which the Popes had for engaging in
colossal undertakings, one is inclined to suspect that the unsound
state of the building was made a pretext for beginning a work which
flattered the architectural tastes of Nicholas, but was not absolutely
necessary. However this may have been, foundations for a new tribune
were laid outside the old apse, and the wall rose some feet above the
ground before the Pope's death. Paul II. carried on the building; but
during the pontificates of Sixtus, Innocent, and Alexander it seems to
have been neglected. Meanwhile nothing had been done to injure the
original basilica; and when Julius announced his intention of
levelling it to the ground, his cardinals and bishops entreated him to
refrain from an act so sacrilegious. The Pope was not a man to take
advice or make concessions. Accordingly, turning a deaf ear to these
entreaties, he had plans prepared by Giuliano da San Gallo and
Bramante. Those eventually chosen were furnished by Bramante; and San
Gallo, who had hitherto enjoyed the fullest confidence of Julius, is
said to have left Rome in disgust. For reasons which will afterwards
appear, he could not have done so before the summer months of 1506.

It is not yet the proper time to discuss the building of S. Peter's.
Still, with regard to Bramante's plan, this much may here be said. It
was designed in the form of a Greek cross, surmounted with a huge
circular dome and flanked by two towers. Bramante used to boast that
he meant to raise the Pantheon in the air; and the plan, as preserved
for us by Serlio, shows that the cupola would have been constructed
after that type. Competent judges, however, declare that insuperable
difficulties must have arisen in carrying out this design, while the
piers constructed by Bramante were found in effect to be wholly
insufficient for their purpose. For the aesthetic beauty and the
commodiousness of his building we have the strongest evidence in a
letter written by Michelangelo, who was by no means a partial witness.
"It cannot be denied," he says, "that Bramante's talent as an
architect was equal to that of any one from the times of the ancients
until now. He laid the first plan of S. Peter's, not confused, but
clear and simple, full of light and detached from surrounding
buildings, so that it interfered with no part of the palace. It was
considered a very fine design, and indeed any one can see with his own
eyes now that it is so. All the architects who departed from
Bramante's scheme, as did Antonio da San Gallo, have departed from the
truth." Though Michelangelo gave this unstinted praise to Bramante's
genius as a builder, he blamed him severely both for his want of
honesty as a man, and also for his vandalism in dealing with the
venerable church he had to replace. "Bramante," says Condivi, "was
addicted, as everybody knows, to every kind of pleasure. He spent
enormously, and, though the pension granted him by the Pope was large,
he found it insufficient for his needs. Accordingly he made profit out
of the works committed to his charge, erecting the walls of poor
material, and without regard for the substantial and enduring
qualities which fabrics on so huge a scale demanded. This is apparent
in the buildings at S. Peter's, the Corridore of the Belvedere, the
Convent of San Pietro ad Vincula, and other of his edifices, which
have had to be strengthened and propped up with buttresses and similar
supports in order to prevent them tumbling down." Bramante, during his
residence in Lombardy, developed a method of erecting piers with
rubble enclosed by hewn stone or plaster-covered brickwork. This
enabled an unconscientious builder to furnish bulky architectural
masses, which presented a specious aspect of solidity and looked more
costly than they really were. It had the additional merit of being
easy and rapid in execution. Bramante was thus able to gratify the
whims and caprices of his impatient patron, who desired to see the
works of art he ordered rise like the fabric of Aladdin's lamp before
his very eyes. Michelangelo is said to have exposed the architect's
trickeries to the Pope; what is more, he complained with just and
bitter indignation of the wanton ruthlessness with which Bramante set
about his work of destruction. I will again quote Condivi here, for
the passage seems to have been inspired by the great sculptor's verbal
reminiscences: "The worst was, that while he was pulling down the old
S. Peter's, he dashed those marvellous antique columns to the ground,
without paying the least attention, or caring at all when they were
broken into fragments, although he might have lowered them gently and
preserved their shafts intact. Michelangelo pointed out that it was an
easy thing enough to erect piers by placing brick on brick, but that
to fashion a column like one of these taxed all the resources of art."

On the 18th of April 1506, Julius performed the ceremony of laying the
foundation-stone of the new S. Peter's. The place chosen was the great
sustaining pier of the dome, near which the altar of S. Veronica now
stands. A deep pit had been excavated, into which the aged Pope
descended fearlessly, only shouting to the crowd above that they
should stand back and not endanger the falling in of the earth above
him. Coins and medals were duly deposited in a vase, over which a
ponderous block of marble was lowered, while Julius, bareheaded,
sprinkled the stone with holy water and gave the pontifical
benediction. On the same day he wrote a letter to Henry VII. of
England, informing the King that "by the guidance of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ he had undertaken to restore the old basilica
which was perishing through age."


The terms of cordial intimacy which subsisted between Julius and
Michelangelo at the close of 1505 were destined to be disturbed. The
Pope intermitted his visits to the sculptor's workshop, and began to
take but little interest in the monument. Condivi directly ascribes
this coldness to the intrigues of Bramante, who whispered into the
Pontiff's ear that it was ill-omened for a man to construct his own
tomb in his lifetime. It is not at all improbable that he said
something of the sort, and Bramante was certainly no good friend to
Michelangelo. A manoeuvring and managing individual, entirely
unscrupulous in his choice of means, condescending to flattery and
lies, he strove to stand as patron between the Pope and subordinate
craftsmen. Michelangelo had come to Rome under San Gallo's influence,
and Bramante had just succeeded in winning the commission to rebuild
S. Peter's over his rival's head. It was important for him to break up
San Gallo's party, among whom the sincere and uncompromising
Michelangelo threatened to be very formidable. The jealousy which he
felt for the man was envenomed by a fear lest he should speak the
truth about his own dishonesty. To discredit Michelangelo with the
Pope, and, if possible, to drive him out of Rome, was therefore
Bramante's interest: more particularly as his own nephew, Raffaello da
Urbino, had now made up his mind to join him there. We shall see that
he succeeded in expelling both San Gallo and Buonarroti during the
course of 1506, and that in their absence he reigned, together with
Raffaello, almost alone in the art-circles of the Eternal City.

I see no reason, therefore, to discredit the story told by Condivi and
Vasari regarding the Pope's growing want of interest in his tomb.
Michelangelo himself, writing from Rome in 1542, thirty-six years
after these events, says that "all the dissensions between Pope Julius
and me arose from the envy of Bramante and Raffaello da Urbino, and
this was the cause of my not finishing the tomb in his lifetime. They
wanted to ruin me. Raffaello indeed had good reason; for all he had of
art he owed to me." But, while we are justified in attributing much to
Bramante's intrigues, it must be remembered that the Pope at this time
was absorbed in his plans for conquering Bologna. Overwhelmed with
business and anxious about money, he could not have had much leisure
to converse with sculptors.

Michelangelo was still in Rome at the end of January. On the 31st of
that month he wrote to his father, complaining that the marbles did
not arrive quickly enough, and that he had to keep Julius in good
humour with promises. At the same time he begged Lodovico to pack up
all his drawings, and to send them, well secured against bad weather,
by the hand of a carrier. It is obvious that he had no thoughts of
leaving Rome, and that the Pope was still eager about the monument.
Early in the spring he assisted at the discovery of the Laocoon.
Francesco, the son of Giuliano da San Gallo, describes how
Michelangelo was almost always at his father's house; and coming there
one day, he went, at the architect's invitation, down to the ruins of
the Palace of Titus. "We set off, all three together; I on my father's
shoulders. When we descended into the place where the statue lay, my
father exclaimed at once, 'That is the Laocoon, of which Pliny
speaks.' The opening was enlarged, so that it could be taken out; and
after we had sufficiently admired it, we went home to breakfast."
Julius bought the marble for 500 crowns, and had it placed in the
Belvedere of the Vatican. Scholars praised it in Latin lines of
greater or lesser merit, Sadoleto writing even a fine poem; and
Michelangelo is said, but without trustworthy authority, to have
assisted in its restoration.

This is the last glimpse we have of Michelangelo before his flight
from Rome. Under what circumstances he suddenly departed may be
related in the words of a letter addressed by him to Giuliano da San
Gallo in Rome upon the 2nd of May 1506, after his return to Florence.

"Giuliano,--Your letter informs me that the Pope was angry at my
departure, as also that his Holiness is inclined to proceed with the
works agreed upon between us, and that I may return and not be anxious
about anything.

"About my leaving Rome, it is a fact that on Holy Saturday I heard the
Pope, in conversation with a jeweller at table and with the Master of
Ceremonies, say that he did not mean to spend a farthing more on
stones, small or great. This caused me no little astonishment.
However, before I left his presence, I asked for part of the money
needed to carry on the work. His Holiness told me to return on Monday.
I did so, and on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, and on Thursday, as the
Pope saw. At last, on Friday morning, I was sent away, or plainly
turned out of doors. The man who did this said he knew me, but that
such were his orders. I, who had heard the Pope's words on Saturday,
and now perceived their result in deeds, was utterly cast down. This
was not, however, quite the only reason of my departure; there was
something else, which I do not wish to communicate; enough that it
made me think that, if I stayed in Rome, that city would be my tomb
before it was the Pope's. And this was the cause of my sudden

"Now you write to me at the Pope's instance. So I beg you to read him
this letter, and inform his Holiness that I am even more than ever
disposed to carry out the work."

Further details may be added from subsequent letters of Michelangelo.
Writing in January 1524 to his friend Giovanni Francesco Fattucci, he
says: "When I had finished paying for the transport of these marbles,
and all the money was spent, I furnished the house I had upon the
Piazza di S. Pietro with beds and utensils at my own expense, trusting
to the commission of the tomb, and sent for workmen from Florence, who
are still alive, and paid them in advance out of my own purse.
Meanwhile Pope Julius changed his mind about the tomb, and would not
have it made. Not knowing this, I applied to him for money, and was
expelled from the chamber. Enraged at such an insult, I left Rome on
the moment. The things with which my house was stocked went to the
dogs. The marbles I had brought to Rome lay till the date of Leo's
creation on the Piazza, and both lots were injured and pillaged."

Again, a letter of October 1542, addressed to some prelate, contains
further particulars. We learn he was so short of money that he had to
borrow about 200 ducats from his friend Baldassare Balducci at the
bank of Jacopo Gallo. The episode at the Vatican and the flight to
Poggibonsi are related thus:--

"To continue my history of the tomb of Julius: I say that when he
changed his mind about building it in his lifetime, some ship-loads of
marble came to the Ripa, which I had ordered a short while before from
Carrara; and as I could not get money from the Pope to pay the
freightage, I had to borrow 150 or 200 ducats from Baldassare
Balducci, that is, from the bank of Jacopo Gallo. At the same time
workmen came from Florence, some of whom are still alive; and I
furnished the house which Julius gave me behind S. Caterina with beds
and other furniture for the men, and what was wanted for the work of
the tomb. All this being done without money, I was greatly
embarrassed. Accordingly, I urged the Pope with all my power to go
forward with the business, and he had me turned away by a groom one
morning when I came to speak upon the matter. A Lucchese bishop,
seeing this, said to the groom: 'Do you not know who that man is?' The
groom replied to me: 'Excuse me, gentleman; I have orders to do this.'
I went home, and wrote as follows to the Pope: 'Most blessed Father, I
have been turned out of the palace to-day by your orders; wherefore I
give you notice that from this time forward, if you want me, you must
look for me elsewhere than at Rome.' I sent this letter to Messer
Agostino, the steward, to give it to the Pope. Then I sent for Cosimo,
a carpenter, who lived with me and looked after household matters, and
a stone-heaver, who is still alive, and said to them: 'Go for a Jew,
and sell everything in the house, and come to Florence.' I went, took
the post, and travelled towards Florence. The Pope, when he had read
my letter, sent five horsemen after me, who reached me at Poggibonsi
about three hours after nightfall, and gave me a letter from the Pope
to this effect: 'When you have seen these present, come back at once
to Rome, under penalty of our displeasure.' The horsemen were anxious
I should answer, in order to prove that they had overtaken me. I
replied then to the Pope, that if he would perform the conditions he
was under with regard to me, I would return; but otherwise he must not
expect to have me again. Later on, while I was at Florence, Julius
sent three briefs to the Signory. At last the latter sent for me and
said: 'We do not want to go to war with Pope Julius because of you.
You must return; and if you do so, we will write you letters of such
authority that, should he do you harm, he will be doing it to this
Signory.' Accordingly I took the letters, and went back to the Pope,
and what followed would be long to tell."

These passages from Michelangelo's correspondence confirm Condivi's
narrative of the flight from Rome, showing that he had gathered his
information from the sculptor's lips. Condivi differs only in making
Michelangelo send a verbal message, and not a written letter, to the
Pope. "Enraged by this repulse, he exclaimed to the groom: 'Tell the
Pope that if henceforth he wants me, he must look for me elsewhere.'"

It is worth observing that only the first of these letters, written
shortly after the event, and intended for the Pope's ear, contains a
hint of Michelangelo's dread of personal violence if he remained in
Rome. His words seem to point at poison or the dagger. Cellini's
autobiography yields sufficient proof that such fears were not
unjustified by practical experience; and Bramante, though he preferred
to work by treachery of tongue, may have commanded the services of
assassins, _uomini arditi e facinorosi_, as they were somewhat
euphemistically called. At any rate, it is clear that Michelangelo's
precipitate departure and vehement refusal to return were occasioned
by more pungent motives than the Pope's frigidity. This has to be
noticed, because we learn from several incidents of the same kind in
the master's life that he was constitutionally subject to sudden
fancies and fears of imminent danger to his person from an enemy. He
had already quitted Bologna in haste from dread of assassination or
maltreatment at the hands of native sculptors.


The negotiations which passed between the Pope and the Signory of
Florence about what may be called the extradition of Michelangelo form
a curious episode in his biography, throwing into powerful relief the
importance he had already acquired among the princes of Italy. I
propose to leave these for the commencement of my next chapter, and to
conclude the present with an account of his occupations during the
summer months at Florence.

Signor Gotti says that he passed three months away from Julius in his
native city. Considering that he arrived before the end of April, and
reached Bologna at the end of November 1506, we have the right to
estimate this residence at about seven months. A letter written to him
from Rome on the 4th of August shows that he had not then left
Florence upon any intermediate journey of importance. Therefore there
is every reason to suppose that he enjoyed a period of half a year of
leisure, which he devoted to finishing his Cartoon for the Battle of

It had been commenced, as we have seen, in a workshop at the Spedale
dei Tintori. When he went to Bologna in the autumn, it was left,
exposed presumably to public view, in the Sala del Papa at S. Maria
Novella. It had therefore been completed; but it does not appear that
Michelangelo had commenced his fresco in the Sala del Gran Consiglio.

Lionardo began to paint his Battle of the Standard in March 1505. The
work advanced rapidly; but the method he adopted, which consisted in
applying oil colours to a fat composition laid thickly on the wall,
caused the ruin of his picture. He is said to have wished to reproduce
the encaustic process of the ancients, and lighted fires to harden the
surface of the fresco. This melted the wax in the lower portions of
the paste, and made the colours run. At any rate, no traces of the
painting now remain in the Sala del Gran Consiglio, the walls of which
are covered by the mechanical and frigid brush-work of Vasari. It has
even been suggested that Vasari knew more about the disappearance of
his predecessor's masterpiece than he has chosen to relate. Lionardo's
Cartoon has also disappeared, and we know the Battle of Anghiari only
by Edelinck's engraving from a drawing of Rubens, and by some doubtful

The same fate was in store for Michelangelo's Cartoon. All that
remains to us of that great work is the chiaroscuro transcript at
Holkham, a sketch for the whole composition in the Albertina Gallery
at Vienna, which differs in some important details from the Holkham
group, several interesting pen-and-chalk drawings by Michelangelo's
own hand, also in the Albertina Collection, and a line-engraving by
Marcantonio Raimondi, commonly known as "Les Grimpeurs."

We do not know at what exact time Michelangelo finished his Cartoon in
1506. He left it, says Condivi, in the Sala del Papa. Afterwards it
must have been transferred to the Sala del Gran Consiglio; for
Albertini, in his _Memoriale_, or Guide-Book to Florence, printed in
1510, speaks of both "the works of Lionardo da Vinci and the designs
of Michelangelo" as then existing in that hall. Vasari asserts that it
was taken to the house of the Medici, and placed in the great upper
hall, but gives no date. This may have taken place on the return of
the princely family in 1512. Cellini confirms this view, since he
declares that when he was copying the Cartoon, which could hardly have
happened before 1513, the Battle of Pisa was at the Palace of the
Medici, and the Battle of Anghiari at the Sala del Papa. The way in
which it finally disappeared is involved in some obscurity, owing to
Vasari's spite and mendacity. In the first, or 1550, edition of the
"Lives of the Painters," he wrote as follows: "Having become a regular
object of study to artists, the Cartoon was carried to the house of
the Medici, into the great upper hall; and this was the reason that it
came with too little safeguard into the hands of those said artists:
inasmuch as, during the illness of the Duke Giuliano, when no one
attended to such matters, it was torn in pieces by them and scattered
abroad, so that fragments may be found in many places, as is proved by
those existing now in the house of Uberto Strozzi, a gentleman of
Mantua, who holds them in great respect." When Vasari published his
second edition, in 1568, he repeated this story of the destruction of
the Cartoon, but with a very significant alteration. Instead of saying
"it was torn in pieces _by them_" he now printed "it was torn in
pieces, _as hath been told elsewhere_." Now Bandinelli, Vasari's
mortal enemy, and the scapegoat for all the sins of his generation
among artists, died in 1559, and Vasari felt that he might safely
defame his memory. Accordingly he introduced a Life of Bandinelli into
the second edition of his work, containing the following passage:
"Baccio was in the habit of frequenting the place where the Cartoon
stood more than any other artists, and had in his possession a false
key; what follows happened at the time when Piero Soderini was deposed
in 1512, and the Medici returned. Well, then, while the palace was in
tumult and confusion through this revolution, Baccio went alone, and
tore the Cartoon into a thousand fragments. Why he did so was not
known; but some surmised that he wanted to keep certain pieces of it
by him for his own use; some, that he wished to deprive young men of
its advantages in study; some, that he was moved by affection for
Lionardo da Vinci, who suffered much in reputation by this design;
some, perhaps with sharper intuition, believed that the hatred he bore
to Michelangelo inspired him to commit the act. The loss of the
Cartoon to the city was no slight one, and Baccio deserved the blame
he got, for everybody called him envious and spiteful." This second
version stands in glaring contradiction to the first, both as regards
the date and the place where the Cartoon was destroyed. It does not, I
think, deserve credence, for Cellini, who was a boy of twelve in 1512,
could hardly have drawn from it before that date; and if Bandinelli
was so notorious for his malignant vandalism as Vasari asserts, it is
most improbable that Cellini, while speaking of the Cartoon in
connection with Torrigiano, should not have taken the opportunity to
cast a stone at the man whom he detested more than any one in
Florence. Moreover, if Bandinelli had wanted to destroy the Cartoon
for any of the reasons above assigned to him, he would not have
dispersed fragments to be treasured up with reverence. At the close of
this tedious summary I ought to add that Condivi expressly states: "I
do not know by what ill-fortune it subsequently came to ruin." He
adds, however, that many of the pieces were found about in various
places, and that all of them were preserved like sacred objects. We
have, then, every reason to believe that the story told in Vasari's
first edition is the literal truth. Copyists and engravers used their
opportunity, when the palace of the Medici was thrown into disorder by
the severe illness of the Duke of Nemours, to take away portions of
Michelangelo's Cartoon for their own use in 1516.

Of the Cartoon and its great reputation, Cellini gives us this
account: "Michelangelo portrayed a number of foot-soldiers, who, the
season being summer, had gone to bathe in the Arno. He drew them at
the very moment the alarm is sounded, and the men all naked run to
arms; so splendid is their action, that nothing survives of ancient or
of modern art, which touches the same lofty point of excellence; and,
as I have already said, the design of the great Lionardo was itself
most admirably beautiful. These two Cartoons stood, one in the palace
of the Medici, the other in the hall of the Pope. So long as they
remained intact, they were the school of the world. Though the divine
Michelangelo in later life finished that great chapel of Pope Julius
(the Sistine), he never rose halfway to the same pitch of power; his
genius never afterwards attained to the force of those first studies."
Allowing for some exaggeration due to enthusiasm for things enjoyed in
early youth, this is a very remarkable statement. Cellini knew the
frescoes of the Sistine well, yet he maintains that they were inferior
in power and beauty to the Battle of Pisa. It seems hardly credible;
but, if we believe it, the legend of Michelangelo's being unable to
execute his own designs for the vault of that chapel falls to the


The great Cartoon has become less even than a memory, and so, perhaps,
we ought to leave it in the limbo of things inchoate and
unaccomplished. But this it was not, most emphatically. Decidedly it
had its day, lived and sowed seeds for good or evil through its period
of brief existence: so many painters of the grand style took their
note from it; it did so much to introduce the last phase of Italian
art, the phase of efflorescence, the phase deplored by critics steeped
in mediaeval feeling. To recapture something of its potency from the
description of contemporaries is therefore our plain duty, and for
this we must have recourse to Vasari's text. He says: "Michelangelo
filled his canvas with nude men, who, bathing at the time of summer
heat in Arno, were suddenly called to arms, the enemy assailing them.
The soldiers swarmed up from the river to resume their clothes; and
here you could behold depicted by the master's godlike hands one
hurrying to clasp his limbs in steel and give assistance to his
comrades, another buckling on the cuirass, and many seizing this or
that weapon, with cavalry in squadrons giving the attack. Among the
multitude of figures, there was an old man, who wore upon his head an
ivy wreath for shade. Seated on the ground, in act to draw his hose
up, he was hampered by the wetness of his legs; and while he heard the
clamour of the soldiers, the cries, the rumbling of the drums, he
pulled with all his might; all the muscles and sinews of his body were
seen in strain; and what was more, the contortion of his mouth showed
what agony of haste he suffered, and how his whole frame laboured to
the toe-tips. Then there were drummers and men with flying garments,
who ran stark naked toward the fray. Strange postures too: this fellow
upright, that man kneeling, or bent down, or on the point of rising;
all in the air foreshortened with full conquest over every difficulty.
In addition, you discovered groups of figures sketched in various
methods, some outlined with charcoal, some etched with strokes, some
shadowed with the stump, some relieved in white-lead; the master
having sought to prove his empire over all materials of
draughtsmanship. The craftsmen of design remained therewith astonished
and dumbfounded, recognising the furthest reaches of their art
revealed to them by this unrivalled masterpiece. Those who examined
the forms I have described, painters who inspected and compared them
with works hardly less divine, affirm that never in the history of
human achievement was any product of a man's brain seen like to them
in mere supremacy. And certainly we have the right to believe this;
for when the Cartoon was finished, and carried to the Hall of the
Pope, amid the acclamation of all artists, and to the exceeding fame
of Michelangelo, the students who made drawings from it, as happened
with foreigners and natives through many years in Florence, became men
of mark in several branches. This is obvious, for Aristotele da San
Gallo worked there, as did Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, Raffaello Sanzio da
Urbino, Francesco Granaccio, Baccio Bandinelli, and Alonso Berughetta,
the Spaniard; they were followed by Andrea del Sarto, Franciabigio,
Jacopo Sansovino, Rosso, Maturino, Lorenzetto, Tribolo, then a boy,
Jacopo da Pontormo, and Pierin del Vaga: all of them first-rate
masters of the Florentine school."

It does not appear from this that Vasari pretended to have seen the
great Cartoon. Born in 1512, he could not indeed have done so; but
there breathes through his description a gust of enthusiasm, an
afflatus of concurrent witnesses to its surpassing grandeur. Some of
the details raise a suspicion that Vasari had before his eyes the
transcript _en grisaille_ which he says was made by Aristotele da San
Gallo, and also the engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi. The prominence
given to the ivy-crowned old soldier troubled by his hose confirms the
accuracy of the Holkham picture and the Albertina drawing. But none of
these partial transcripts left to us convey that sense of multitude,
space, and varied action which Vasari's words impress on the
imagination. The fullest, that at Holkham, contains nineteen figures,
and these are schematically arranged in three planes, with outlying
subjects in foreground and background. Reduced in scale, and treated
with the arid touch of a feeble craftsman, the linear composition
suggests no large aesthetic charm. It is simply a bas-relief of
carefully selected attitudes and vigorously studied movements
--nineteen men, more or less unclothed, put together with the
scientific view of illustrating possibilities and conquering
difficulties in postures of the adult male body. The extraordinary
effect, as of something superhuman, produced by the Cartoon upon
contemporaries, and preserved for us in Cellini's and Vasari's
narratives, must then have been due to unexampled qualities of
strength in conception, draughtsmanship, and execution. It stung to
the quick an age of artists who had abandoned the representation of
religious sentiment and poetical feeling for technical triumphs and
masterly solutions of mechanical problems in the treatment of the nude
figure. We all know how much more than this Michelangelo had in him to
give, and how unjust it would be to judge a masterpiece from his hand
by the miserable relics now at our disposal. Still I cannot refrain
from thinking that the Cartoon for the Battle of Pisa, taken up by him
as a field for the display of his ability, must, by its very
brilliancy, have accelerated the ruin of Italian art. Cellini, we saw,
placed it above the frescoes of the Sistine. In force, veracity, and
realism it may possibly have been superior to those sublime
productions. Everything we know about the growth of Michelangelo's
genius leads us to suppose that he departed gradually but surely from
the path of Nature. He came, however, to use what he had learned from
Nature as means for the expression of soul-stimulating thoughts. This,
the finest feature of his genius, no artist of the age was capable of
adequately comprehending. Accordingly, they agreed in extolling a
cartoon which displayed his faculty of dealing with _un bel corpo
ignudo_ as the climax of his powers.

As might be expected, there was no landscape in the Cartoon.
Michelangelo handled his subject wholly from the point of view of
sculpture. A broken bank and a retreating platform, a few rocks in the
distance and a few waved lines in the foreground, showed that the
naked men were by a river. Michelangelo's unrelenting contempt for the
many-formed and many-coloured stage on which we live and move--his
steady determination to treat men and women as nudities posed in the
void, with just enough of solid substance beneath their feet to make
their attitudes intelligible--is a point which must over and over
again be insisted on. In the psychology of the master, regarded from
any side one likes to take, this constitutes his leading
characteristic. It gives the key, not only to his talent as an artist,
but also to his temperament as a man.

Marcantonio seems to have felt and resented the aridity of
composition, the isolation of plastic form, the tyranny of anatomical
science, which even the most sympathetic of us feel in Michelangelo.
This master's engraving of three lovely nudes, the most charming
memento preserved to us from the Cartoon, introduces a landscape of
grove and farm, field and distant hill, lending suavity to the
muscular male body and restoring it to its proper place among the
sinuous lines and broken curves of Nature. That the landscape was
adapted from a copper-plate of Lucas van Leyden signifies nothing. It
serves the soothing purpose which sensitive nerves, irritated by
Michelangelo's aloofness from all else but thought and naked flesh and
posture, gratefully acknowledge.

While Michelangelo was finishing his Cartoon, Lionardo da Vinci was
painting his fresco. Circumstances may have brought the two chiefs of
Italian art frequently together in the streets of Florence. There
exists an anecdote of one encounter, which, though it rests upon the
credit of an anonymous writer, and does not reflect a pleasing light
upon the hero of this biography, cannot be neglected. "Lionardo,"
writes our authority, "was a man of fair presence, well-proportioned,
gracefully endowed, and of fine aspect. He wore a tunic of
rose-colour, falling to his knees; for at that time it was the fashion
to carry garments of some length; and down to the middle of his breast
there flowed a beard beautifully curled and well arranged. Walking
with a friend near S. Trinita, where a company of honest folk were
gathered, and talk was going on about some passage from Dante, they
called to Lionardo, and begged him to explain its meaning. It so
happened that just at this moment Michelangelo went by, and, being
hailed by one of them, Lionardo answered: 'There goes Michelangelo; he
will interpret the verses you require.' Whereupon Michelangelo, who
thought he spoke in this way to make fun of him, replied in anger:
'Explain them yourself, you who made the model of a horse to cast in
bronze, and could not cast it, and to your shame left it in the
lurch.' With these words, he turned his back to the group, and went
his way. Lionardo remained standing there, red in the face for the
reproach cast at him; and Michelangelo, not satisfied, but wanting to
sting him to the quick, added: 'And those Milanese capons believed in
your ability to do it!'"

We can only take anecdotes for what they are worth, and that may
perhaps be considered slight when they are anonymous. This anecdote,
however, in the original Florentine diction, although it betrays a
partiality for Lionardo, bears the aspect of truth to fact. Moreover,
even Michelangelo's admirers are bound to acknowledge that he had a
rasping tongue, and was not incapable of showing his bad temper by
rudeness. From the period of his boyhood, when Torrigiano smashed his
nose, down to the last years of his life in Rome, when he abused his
nephew Lionardo and hurt the feelings of his best and oldest friends,
he discovered signs of a highly nervous and fretful temperament. It
must be admitted that the dominant qualities of nobility and
generosity in his nature were alloyed by suspicion bordering on
littleness, and by petulant yieldings to the irritation of the moment
which are incompatible with the calm of an Olympian genius.



While Michelangelo was living and working at Florence, Bramante had
full opportunity to poison the Pope's mind in Rome. It is commonly
believed, on the faith of a sentence in Condivi, that Bramante, when
he dissuaded Julius from building the tomb in his own lifetime,
suggested the painting of the Sistine Chapel. We are told that he
proposed Michelangelo for this work, hoping his genius would be
hampered by a task for which he was not fitted. There are many
improbabilities in this story; not the least being our certainty that
the fame of the Cartoon must have reached Bramante before
Michelangelo's arrival in the first months of 1505. But the Cartoon
did not prove that Buonarroti was a practical wall-painter or
colourist; and we have reason to believe that Julius had himself
conceived the notion of intrusting the Sistine to his sculptor. A good
friend of Michelangelo, Pietro Rosselli, wrote this letter on the
subject, May 6, 1506: "Last Saturday evening, when the Pope was at
supper, I showed him some designs which Bramante and I had to test;
so, after supper, when I had displayed them, he called for Bramante,
and said: 'San Gallo is going to Florence to-morrow, and will bring
Michelangelo back with him.' Bramante answered: 'Holy Father, he will
not be able to do anything of the kind. I have conversed much with
Michelangelo, and he has often told me that he would not undertake the
chapel, which you wanted to put upon him; and that, you
notwithstanding, he meant only to apply himself to sculpture, and
would have nothing to do with painting.' To this he added: 'Holy
Father, I do not think he has the courage to attempt the work, because
he has small experience in painting figures, and these will be raised
high above the line of vision, and in foreshortening (i.e., because of
the vault). That is something different from painting on the ground.'
The Pope replied: 'If he does not come, he will do me wrong; and so I
think that he is sure to return.' Upon this I up and gave the man a
sound rating in the Pope's presence, and spoke as I believe you would
have spoken for me; and for the time he was struck dumb, as though he
felt that he had made a mistake in talking as he did. I proceeded as
follows: 'Holy Father, that man never exchanged a word with
Michelangelo, and if what he has just said is the truth, I beg you to
cut my head off, for he never spoke to Michelangelo; also I feel sure
that he is certain to return, if your Holiness requires it.'"

This altercation throws doubt on the statement that Bramante
originally suggested Michelangelo as painter of the Sistine. He could
hardly have turned round against his own recommendation; and,
moreover, it is likely that he would have wished to keep so great a
work in the hands of his own set, Raffaello, Peruzzi, Sodoma, and

Meanwhile, Michelangelo's friends in Rome wrote, encouraging him to
come back. They clearly thought that he was hazarding both profit and
honour if he stayed away. But Michelangelo, whether the constitutional
timidity of which I have spoken, or other reasons damped his courage,
felt that he could not trust to the Pope's mercies. What effect San
Gallo may have had upon him, supposing this architect arrived in
Florence at the middle of May, can only be conjectured. The fact
remains that he continued stubborn for a time. In the lengthy
autobiographical letter written to some prelate in 1542, Michelangelo
relates what followed: "Later on, while I was at Florence, Julius sent
three briefs to the Signory. At last the latter sent for me and said:
'We do not want to go to war with Pope Julius because of you. You must
return; and if you do so, we will write you letters of such authority
that, should he do you harm, he will be doing it to this Signory.'
Accordingly I took the letters, and went back to the Pope."

Condivi gives a graphic account of the transaction which ensued.
"During the months he stayed in Florence three papal briefs were sent
to the Signory, full of threats, commanding that he should be sent
back by fair means or by force. Piero Soderini, who was Gonfalonier
for life at that time, had sent him against his own inclination to
Rome when Julius first asked for him. Accordingly, when the first of
these briefs arrived, he did not compel Michelangelo to go, trusting
that the Pope's anger would calm down. But when the second and the
third were sent, he called Michelangelo and said: 'You have tried a
bout with the Pope on which the King of France would not have
ventured; therefore you must not go on letting yourself be prayed for.
We do not wish to go to war on your account with him, and put our
state in peril. Make your mind up to return.' Michelangelo, seeing
himself brought to this pass, and still fearing the anger of the Pope,
bethought him of taking refuge in the East. The Sultan indeed besought
him with most liberal promises, through the means of certain
Franciscan friars, to come and construct a bridge from Constantinople
to Pera, and to execute other great works. When the Gonfalonier got
wind of this intention he sent for Michelangelo and used these
arguments to dissuade him: 'It were better to choose death with the
Pope than to keep in life by going to the Turk. Nevertheless, there is
no fear of such an ending; for the Pope is well disposed, and sends
for you because he loves you, not to do you harm. If you are afraid,
the Signory will send you with the title of ambassador; forasmuch as
public personages are never treated with violence, since this would be
done to those who send them.'"

We only possess one brief from Julius to the Signory of Florence. It
is dated Rome, July 8, 1506, and contains this passage: "Michelangelo
the sculptor, who left us without reason, and in mere caprice, is
afraid, as we are informed, of returning, though we for our part are
not angry with him, knowing the humours of such men of genius. In
order, then, that he may lay aside all anxiety, we rely on your
loyalty to convince him in our name, that if he returns to us, he
shall be uninjured and unhurt, retaining our apostolic favour in the
same measure as he formerly enjoyed it." The date, July 8, is
important in this episode of Michelangelo's life. Soderini sent back
an answer to the Pope's brief within a few days, affirming that
"Michelangelo the sculptor is so terrified that, notwithstanding the
promise of his Holiness, it will be necessary for the Cardinal of
Pavia to write a letter signed by his own hand to us, guaranteeing his
safety and immunity. We have done, and are doing, all we can to make
him go back; assuring your Lordship that, unless he is gently handled,
he will quit Florence, as he has already twice wanted to do." This
letter is followed by another addressed to the Cardinal of Volterra
under date July 28. Soderini repeats that Michelangelo will not budge,
because he has as yet received no definite safe-conduct. It appears
that in the course of August the negotiations had advanced to a point
at which Michelangelo was willing to return. On the last day of the
month the Signory drafted a letter to the Cardinal of Pavia in which
they say that "Michelangelo Buonarroti, sculptor, citizen of Florence,
and greatly loved by us, will exhibit these letters present, having at
last been persuaded to repose confidence in his Holiness." They add
that he is coming in good spirits and with good-will. Something may
have happened to renew his terror, for this despatch was not
delivered, and nothing more is heard of the transaction till toward
the close of November. It is probable, however, that Soderini suddenly
discovered how little Michelangelo was likely to be wanted; Julius, on
the 27th of August, having started on what appeared to be his mad
campaign against Perugia and Bologna. On the 21st of November
following the Cardinal of Pavia sent an autograph letter from Bologna
to the Signory, urgently requesting that they would despatch
Michelangelo immediately to that town, inasmuch as the Pope was
impatient for his arrival, and wanted to employ him on important
works. Six days later, November 27, Soderini writes two letters, one
to the Cardinal of Pavia and one to the Cardinal of Volterra, which
finally conclude the whole business. The epistle to Volterra begins
thus: "The bearer of these present will be Michelangelo, the sculptor,
whom we send to please and satisfy his Holiness. We certify that he is
an excellent young man, and in his own art without peer in Italy,
perhaps also in the universe. We cannot recommend him more
emphatically. His nature is such, that with good words and kindness,
if these are given him, he will do everything; one has to show him
love and treat him kindly, and he will perform things which will make
the whole world wonder." The letter to Pavia is written more
familiarly, reading like a private introduction. In both of them
Soderini enhances the service he is rendering the Pope by alluding to
the magnificent design for the Battle of Pisa which Michelangelo must
leave unfinished.

Before describing his reception at Bologna, it may be well to quote
two sonnets here which throw an interesting light upon Michelangelo's
personal feeling for Julius and his sense of the corruption of the
Roman Curia. The first may well have been written during this
residence at Florence; and the autograph of the second has these
curious words added at the foot of the page: "_Vostro Michelagniolo_,
in Turchia." Rome itself, the Sacred City, has become a land of
infidels, and Michelangelo, whose thoughts are turned to the Levant,
implies that he would find himself no worse off with the Sultan than
the Pope.

_My Lord! If ever ancient saw spake sooth,
Hear this which saith: Who can doth never will.
Lo, thou hast lent thine ear to fables still.
Rewarding those who hate the name of truth.
I am thy drudge, and have been from my youth--
Thine, like the rays which the sun's circle fill;
Yet of my dear time's waste thou think'st no ill:
The more I toil, the less I move thy ruth.
Once 'twas my hope to raise me by thy height;
But 'tis the balance and the powerful sword
Of Justice, not false Echo, that we need.
Heaven, as it seems, plants virtue in despite
Here on the earth, if this be our reward--
To seek for fruit on trees too dry to breed.

Here helms and swords are made of chalices:
The blood of Christ is sold so much the quart:
His cross and thorns are spears and shields; and short
Must be the time ere even His patience cease._
_Nay, let Him come no more to raise the fees.
Of this foul sacrilege beyond, report:
For Rome still flays and sells Him at the court,
Where paths are closed, to virtue's fair increase,
Now were fit time for me to scrape a treasure,
Seeing that work and gain are gone; while he
Who wears the robe, is my Medusa still.
God welcomes poverty perchance with pleasure:
But of that better life what hope have we,
When the blessed banner leads to nought but ill?_

While Michelangelo was planning frescoes and venting his bile in
sonnets, the fiery Pope had started on his perilous career of
conquest. He called the Cardinals together, and informed them that he
meant to free the cities of Perugia and Bologna from their tyrants.
God, he said, would protect His Church; he could rely on the support
of France and Florence. Other Popes had stirred up wars and used the
services of generals; he meant to take the field in person. Louis XII.
is reported to have jeered among his courtiers at the notion of a
high-priest riding to the wars. A few days afterwards, on the 27th of
August, the Pope left Rome attended by twenty-four cardinals and 500
men-at-arms. He had previously secured the neutrality of Venice and a
promise of troops from the French court. When Julius reached Orvieto,
he was met by Gianpaolo Baglioni, the bloody and licentious despot of
Perugia. Notwithstanding Baglioni knew that Julius was coming to
assert his supremacy, and notwithstanding the Pope knew that this
might drive to desperation a man so violent and stained with crime as
Baglioni, they rode together to Perugia, where Gianpaolo paid homage
and supplied his haughty guest with soldiers. The rashness of this act
of Julius sent a thrill of admiration throughout Italy, stirring that
sense of _terribilita_ which fascinated the imagination of the
Renaissance. Machiavelli, commenting upon the action of the Baglioni,
remarks that the event proved how difficult it is for a man to be
perfectly and scientifically wicked. Gianpaolo, he says, murdered his
relations, oppressed his subjects, and boasted of being a father by
his sister; yet, when he got his worst enemy into his clutches, he had
not the spirit to be magnificently criminal, and murder or imprison
Julius. From Perugia the Pope crossed the Apennines, and found himself
at Imola upon the 20th of October. There he received news that the
French governor of Milan, at the order of his king, was about to send
him a reinforcement of 600 lances and 3000 foot-soldiers. This
announcement, while it cheered the heart of Julius, struck terror into
the Bentivogli, masters of Bologna. They left their city and took
refuge in Milan, while the people of Bologna sent envoys to the Pope's
camp, surrendering their town and themselves to his apostolic
clemency. On the 11th of November, S. Martin's day, Giuliano della
Rovere made his triumphal entry into Bologna, having restored two
wealthy provinces to the states of the Church by a stroke of sheer
audacity, unparalleled in the history of any previous pontiff. Ten
days afterwards we find him again renewing negotiations with the
Signory for the extradition of Michelangelo.


"Arriving then one morning at Bologna, and going to hear Mass at S.
Petronio, there met him the Pope's grooms of the stable, who
immediately recognised him, and brought him into the presence of his
Holiness, then at table in the Palace of the Sixteen. When the Pope
beheld him, his face clouded with anger, and he cried: 'It was your
duty to come to seek us, and you have waited till we came to seek you;
meaning thereby that his Holiness having travelled to Bologna, which
is much nearer to Florence than Rome, he had come to find him out.
Michelangelo knelt, and prayed for pardon in a loud voice, pleading in
his excuse that he had not erred through forwardness, but through
great distress of mind, having been unable to endure the expulsion he
received. The Pope remained holding his head low and answering
nothing, evidently much agitated; when a certain prelate, sent by
Cardinal Soderini to put in a good word for Michelangelo, came forward
and said: 'Your Holiness might overlook his fault; he did wrong
through ignorance: these painters, outside their art, are all like
this.' Thereupon the Pope answered in a fury: 'It is you, not I, who
are insulting him. It is you, not he, who are the ignoramus and the
rascal. Get hence out of my sight, and bad luck to you!' When the
fellow did not move, he was cast forth by the servants, as
Michelangelo used to relate, with good round kicks and thumpings. So
the Pope, having spent the surplus of his bile upon the bishop, took
Michelangelo apart and pardoned him. Not long afterwards he sent for
him and said: 'I wish you to make my statue on a large scale in
bronze. I mean to place it on the facade of San Petronio.' When he
went to Rome in course of time, he left 1000 ducats at the bank of
Messer Antonmaria da Lignano for this purpose. But before he did so
Michelangelo had made the clay model. Being in some doubt how to
manage the left hand, after making the Pope give the benediction with
the right, he asked Julius, who had come to see the statue, if he
would like it to hold a book. 'What book?' replied he: 'a sword! I
know nothing about letters, not I.' Jesting then about the right hand,
which was vehement in action, he said with a smile to Michelangelo:
'That statue of yours, is it blessing or cursing?' To which the
sculptor replied: 'Holy Father, it is threatening this people of
Bologna if they are not prudent.'"

Michelangelo's letter to Fattucci confirms Condivi's narrative. "When
Pope Julius went to Bologna the first time, I was forced to go there
with a rope round my neck to beg his pardon. He ordered me to make his
portrait in bronze, sitting, about seven cubits (14 feet) in height.
When he asked what it would cost, I answered that I thought I could
cast it for 1000 ducats; but that this was not my trade, and that I
did not wish to undertake it. He answered: 'Go to work; you shall cast
it over and over again till it succeeds; and I will give you enough to
satisfy your wishes.' To put it briefly, I cast the statue twice; and
at the end of two years, at Bologna, I found that I had four and a
half ducats left. I never received anything more for this job; and all
the moneys I paid out during the said two years were the 1000 ducats
with which I promised to cast it. These were disbursed to me in
instalments by Messer Antonio Maria da Legnano, a Bolognese."

The statue must have been more than thrice life-size, if it rose
fourteen feet in a sitting posture. Michelangelo worked at the model
in a hall called the Stanza del Pavaglione behind the Cathedral. Three
experienced workmen were sent, at his request, from Florence, and he
began at once upon the arduous labour. His domestic correspondence,
which at this period becomes more copious and interesting, contains a
good deal of information concerning his residence at Bologna. His mode
of life, as usual, was miserable and penurious in the extreme. This
man, about whom popes and cardinals and gonfaloniers had been
corresponding, now hired a single room with one bed in it, where, as
we have seen, he slept together with his three assistants. There can
be no doubt that such eccentric habits prevented Michelangelo from
inspiring his subordinates with due respect. The want of control over
servants and workmen, which is a noticeable feature of his private
life, may in part be attributed to this cause. And now, at Bologna, he
soon got into trouble with the three craftsmen he had engaged to help
him. They were Lapo d'Antonio di Lapo, a sculptor at the Opera del
Duomo; Lodovico del Buono, surnamed Lotti, a metal-caster and founder
of cannon; and Pietro Urbano, a craftsman who continued long in his
service. Lapo boasted that he was executing the statue in partnership
with Michelangelo and upon equal terms, which did not seem incredible
considering their association in a single bedroom. Beside this, he
intrigued and cheated in money matters. The master felt that he must
get rid of him, and send the fellow back to Florence. Lapo, not
choosing to go alone, lest the truth of the affair should be apparent,
persuaded Lodovico to join him; and when they reached home, both began
to calumniate their master. Michelangelo, knowing that they were
likely to do so, wrote to his brother Buonarroto on the 1st of
February 1507: "I inform you further how on Friday morning I sent away
Lapo and Lodovico, who were in my service. Lapo, because he is good
for nothing and a rogue, and could not serve me. Lodovico is better,
and I should have been willing to keep him another two months, but
Lapo, in order to prevent blame falling on himself alone, worked upon
the other so that both went away together. I write you this, not that
I regard them, for they are not worth three farthings, the pair of
them, but because if they come to talk to Lodovico (Buonarroti) he
must not be surprised at what they say. Tell him by no means to lend
them his ears; and if you want to be informed about them, go to Messer
Angelo, the herald of the Signory; for I have written the whole story
to him, and he will, out of his kindly feeling, tell you just what

In spite of these precautions, Lapo seems to have gained the ear of
Michelangelo's father, who wrote a scolding letter in his usual
puzzle-headed way. Michelangelo replied in a tone of real and ironical
humility, which is exceedingly characteristic: "Most revered father, I

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