OPPOSITE the Badia rises the solid pile of the Bargello, formerly known as the Palazzo del Podestà, and now used for a Museum of Italian Art and Manufacture. The chief interest of this palace consists in the building itself, a record in stone of the darkest incidents in Florentine history, preserved in the midst of modern civilisation, and happily affording a contrast to the habits as well as manners of the present century.
The office of Podestà was first created in 1158 by Frederick Barbarossa, who placed a foreign magistrate in Milan to ad-minister justice. He abolished the consuls there, and established the Podestà in their place, never a native of the city, and frequently not even an Italian.’ The office was introduced into Florence in 1207, following the example of the Lombard cities, at a time when it was supposed that a foreigner which term included all who were not Florentineswould govern the city more impartially. The conditions imposed by the decree were that the Podestà should be a noble, a Catholic, and a Guelph. He presided over a court consisting of two judges, who bore the title of `Collaterali,’ or assistants, and four notaries ; his escort was composed of eight squires or attendants, wearing the family livery of the Podestà, two trumpeters, four armed horsemen, a constable, and twenty-five police ; and he was preceded by a boy wearing a particular costume and bearing the attributes of justice. The Podestà at first inhabited the archbishop’s palace ; at a later period he was installed in the Torre della Castagna, and afterwards in the Bargello.
When the Podestà still inhabited the Torre della Castagna, in 1250, a Ghibelline named Ranieri da Monte Merlo was elected to this office, and the Emperor Frederick II., with whom Ranieri was a favourite, was then at the height of his power: but the Florentine people, weary of the perpetual dissensions among the nobles, to which class the Podestà himself belonged, and resolved no longer to submit to an officer who, being a Ghibelline, was not legally eligible, rose en masse, and, headed by their magistrates (anziani, or elders), asserted their rights. The leaders met in the old Church of San Firenze, which has long since disappeared ; but, not believing themselves sufficiently secure, they retired to Santa Croce, and finally to San Lorenzo. From thence they issued decrees abolishing the office of Podestà, and they chose, as their chief magistrate, Uberto Rosso of Lucca, on whom they bestowed the title of Capitano del Popolo. They next decreed the construction of a fortified palace, which they called the Palazzo del Comune, or municipal residence, but which afterwards, when the Podestà was restored, became his palace, The authorities in San Lorenzo proceeded to order that all towers belonging to private families should be reduced in height to fifty braccia, about 150 feet ; the only exception being the Tower of the Boscoli, which, with all the adjoining houses and gardens, was incorporated in the new building, and still retains its tall proportions, rising above the palaces and humbler dwellings of Florence. The work was confided to Arnolfo di Cambio, who made his design solely with a view to strength, using as his material pietra forte,’ taken from the quarries of the Camfora, beyond the Porta Romana. To enlarge the site, part of the Badia was demolished, and the monks were obliged to resign the lands immediately round their convent to make room for the new palace.
In A.D. 1260 Guido Novello, the viceroy of King Robert of Naples, to whom the Florentines had confided the protection of their city, was chosen Podestà, and, for the first time, this magistrate took up his abode in the Palazzo del Comune, from which the Capitano del Popolo shortly afterwards withdrew.
In 1313, a Bargello or head of the police was created, whose duty was to execute any order of the Signory without further form of law. Five hundred foot soldiers and fifty horsemen were placed at his disposal. The first Bargello, ` for the preservation of order,’ was appointed by King Robert of Naples ; his name was Lando da Gubbio, from a city near Urbino : he was a cruel, bloodthirsty man, who, according to the historian Villani, was continually seen at the foot of the stairs of the Palazzo Vecchio, with five attendants bearing headsman’s axes. The daughter of Albert of Germany, passing through Florence on her way to marry Charles, Duke of Calabria, the son of King Robert, took compassion on the Florentines, and used all the influence she possessed to obtain the dismissal of the Bargello. Lando da Gubbio was only four months in office, but he had had time to issue an adulterated coin, called after him ` Bargellini.”
In 1326, the Duke of Calabria arrived in Florence as Governor ; he brought with him a suite of eleven hundred persons, and took up his abode in the Palazzo del Podestâ; whilst his lieutenant, Walter de Brienne, Duke of Athens, resided in the houses of the Macci in the Via Calzaioli. The Duke of Calabria only remained in Florence until December, 1327 ; and in 1330 a rising took place among the citizens, which ended with the destruction of a great part of the Palazzo del Podestâ by fire. About fifty years previous, A.D. 1267, a magistracy had been created, composed of from three to nine persons, who were called the Captains of the Guelphic party. Their function was the administration of the confiscated property of exiled Ghibellines for the advantage of the Guelphs ; and, under this pretext, the Captains seized on several strongholds, and commenced a reign of terror in the city, which lasted a considerable time. In 1358 they obtained a decree that any Florentine holding office, if brought before their tribunal under an accusation of Ghibellinism attested by six witnesses, should be obliged to resign, and to pay a fine, or ‘even to be sentenced to death at the pleasure of the Guelphic party : the person thus condemned was said to be admonished, and was incapable, as a Ghibelline, of holding any office. Forty days after this decree, eighteen persons were condemned to punishment. Although it was originally intended that the Captains of the Guelphic party should be freely chosen from the people, the election was in a short time usurped by a few powerful families, of whom the Albizzi was the chief. The Albizzi maintained their despotic power by means too frequently made use of by tyrants, taking advantage of a ground-less panic to attack the supposed enemies of the common-wealth. The name of Ghibelline had become synonymous with disturber of the public peace ; and when we turn to the history of Europe at this period, and read of feudal barons waging war on commerce and defenceless cities, and establishing their claim to superiority by violence and cruelty, we can appreciate the dread of Ghibelline power in Florence, and assent to the truth of Dean Milman’s words :’ The cause of the Guelphs was more than that of the Church ; it was the cause of freedom and humanity.”
Other officers were appointed to support the Captains of the Guelphic party in the cause of order. Seven BargelliCaptains of the guard, or policewere added in 1334, whose duty was to arrest the brawls between citizen and citizen in the streets ; but in 1335 the Signory dismissed these officers, and transferred their power to a single head, and a foreigner, who bore the same title of Bargello. The first Bargello having exercised his office with much severity, the office was altogether abolished, and the peace of the city was confided to the Florentine Capitano di Piazza, with the identical title of Bargello, who resided in the Palazzo Vecchio, near the custom-house.
But a champion of the people’s rights, an enemy to all tyrants, and peculiarly hostile to the Albizzi, now appeared in Silvestro de’ Medici, whose family was rising rapidly into power. He was chosen Gonfalonier in 1378 ; but finding that he met with no support in his opposition to the Captains of the Guelphic party, and to the system of admonitions, he resigned, alleging as a reason, his inability to defend the people from their tyrants. The popular rising which almost immediately afterwards took place was chiefly composed of artisans, whence the name of the riot, the Ciompiwooden shoes. It was on this occasion that the Palazzo Alessandriat that time Albizziwas nearly consumed by fire, and the Palazzo del Podestà was attacked by the mob. Some cross-bowmen, who mounted the bell-tower of the Badia; endeavoured to sling stones down upon the palace ; but as they did not succeed, the people below made signs to them to desist, and sent a summons to the Podestà to surrender. He consented on condition that the people should not enter the chamber where the Municipal Council held their sittings. Having obtained a promise to this effect, the Podestà and his family descended in fear and trembling, but they were allowed to depart without molestation. The insurgents rushed in, and mounting the tower, tore down the city banner, hoisting in its stead the Tongs, the emblem of the Guild of Blacksmiths, and then proceeded to hang out the emblems of the other guilds from the windows of the rooms lately occupied by the Podestà. All the furniture was thrown into the street, and every piece of writing the rabble could lay hands on was burnt. The whole of that day, and the following night, a mixed multitude of poor and rich continued in the palace guarding the banners of their respective guilds. It was not until after the riot had been effectually suppressed, that a new Podestà was appointed, and the city returned to its normal condition.
In 1416, Florence was afflicted by a plague ; several of the Priors died in the performance of their magisterial duties ; and such was the panic, that many citizens fled. To prevent the total desertion of the city by those best able to assist in case of riots, the Priors appointed two Bargelli, with a troop of foot soldiers and cross- bowmen, under the orders of the Podestà, to keep guard at the gates.
In 1502, a tribunal was appointed to restrain the power of the Podestà. This tribunal was called the Consiglio di Giustizia, or Giudici alla Ruotaa name derived from the pavement of the hall where these judges held their sittings, which was composed of huge circular blocks of stone, like wheelsruote alternately red and green ; in the same way as our Chancellors of the Exchequer derive their name from the chequered pavement of the room in which they once held their tribunal. The court of the Giudici alla Ruota, or Consiglio di Giustizia, was composed of five doctors of law, who held their sittings twice a week in the lower chamber of the Palazzo del Podestà ; their decisions were finally laid before the Proconsolo, who resided opposite the Palazzo, near the Badia. The Giudici alla Ruota were afterwards removed to the Castle of Altafronte, in the Piazza dei Castellani,’ which thenceforth was called the Piazza dei Giudici.’
The office of Podestà was abolished by the Grand Duke Cosimo I., who appointed the Bargello to reside in the palace, which has ever since retained the name of this not very credit-able official. Subject to the Bargello, as formerly to the Podestà, the palace had its dungeons and torture-chamber ; and executions took place in the cortile, as well as outside before the door.
The oldest part of the palace, including the Tower of the Boscoli, is that nearest the Badia, as well as facing the Piazza di San Firenze, formerly di San Apollinare, when there was a church of that name on the other side of the Vigna Vecchia. Arnolfo di Cambio added the eastern side of the palace, after-wards called the Via de’ Vergognosi. The building was enlarged as well as repaired, after the fire of 1330, by Agnolo Gaddi (d. 1396), who raised the height of the outer walls to admit the splendid hall on the upper story, and added the machicolations. The windows under the double arch, divided by a column, and containing the arms of the Republic, are likewise by him.
The Tower, on the side facing the Via del Palagio, now Via Ghibellina, until lately bore traces of fresco paintings, representing the Duke of Athens, and others, who were thus held up to public opprobrium, and also a portrait in relief of Corso Donati ; but all have perished by time, weather, or modern repairs. There are still, however, indications of the door which led to the dungeons in the various stories within. The bell within the tower was called the Montanara, because brought from a castello, or fortified town of that name, which had been seized by the Florentines in 1302. Its slow and solemn sound was the signal every evening for the citizens to lay aside their weapons, and retire to their homes, for which reason it likewise obtained the name of La Campana delle Armi. The Grand Duke Cosimo I. made it an instrument of his tyranny, by a decree ordering that any servant found idling in the streets of Florence, or hanging about for want of employment after the Montanara had sounded, was to have his right hand amputated. The bell of the Bargello was always tolled when a public execution took place.
At the corner of the Via de’ Vergognosi and the Via della Vigna Vecchia was once a fountain, the basin of which had in earlier times been the sarcophagus of the Temperani family in the Church of San Pancrazio, and is now in this Museum ; and at the corner of the Bargello and the Via Ghibellina, is a painting by Fabrizio Boschi (1570-1642), of a saint giving food and alms to prisoners at a window. The oldest entrance to the palace was facing the Badia ; it had a projecting roof with lions on either side. The high pointed arch within is composed of alternate black and white marble. This large hall, with a vaulted roof resting on square pilasters of solid masonry, was for a time used as the torture chamber, when the piazza ceased to be the place of execution. The door to the street was then walled up to prevent the cries of the victims being heard. In an engraving by the French engraver Callot, representing the Bargello and the adjoining piazza during an execution, another door is seen on the first floor, communicating with the Judgment Chamber by a staircase from the street. When the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo ordered the instruments of torture to be carried into the cortile of the palace and burnt, the hall on the ground floor where the Giudici alla Ruota had once held their sittings, which was afterwards the torture chamber, was used to contain documents relating to criminal causes. Near the central pilaster, sup-porting the roof and the entrance, is a square stone closing the mouth of a pit, out of which, within the last few years, have been taken several basketfuls of bones, which were all human, with the exception of a few bones of animals, on whom the experiment of this oubliette may first have been tried. This hall contains examples of old armour ; in a case at the farther end is a splendid helmet and shield, wrought for Francis I., of France, by a scholar of Benvenuto Cellini. The armour of the Bande Nere and of the Knights of Malta, with the Cross engraven among other designs, are hung on the wall,’ and there is some very fine embossed armour, by Giovanni da Bologna (1524-1608). One of the cases contains a curious old bronze lantern, to conceal and protect the watch at night. The same case contains a number of singular old locks and keys. A huge cannon, called San Paolo, was cast in 1635 by Cosimo Cenni, a Florentine, for Ferdinand II. of Medici, one of twelve guns, each of them named after an Apostle. The head of St. Paul is at one end, and above is inscribed the weight of the metal, 27,500 lbs. (French), and the number 407, which indicates how many guns had been cast by the same Cenni. This gun was brought from Tunis in 1866.
A small chamber, on the opposite side of the Court, contains many interesting specimens of early Florentine sculpture. Some of them are placed here temporarily, before being arranged in the rooms above. The large stone frame-work of a door in beautiful proportions, facing the entrance, is by Donatello (1386-1466). It bears the arms of the Pazzi family, a dolphin and five daggers, and it once adorned the entrance to their palace in the Via del Orivolo, whence issued the conspirators intent on the murder of the Medici brothers, Lorenzo and Giuliano, during mass at the Cathedral on Easter morning, 1478. This door frame was brought to the Bargello, when the Palace was converted into the Banca del Popolo, in 1870. In the centre of the chamber is the grand old stone Marzocco of Donatello, which was removed from the front of the Palazzo Vecchio, and a bronze copy by Papi substituted.
A grey stone niche for a lavabo, or lavatory, to the right was brought hither from the Acciajoli Palace in the Borgo SS. Apostoli, and bears the arms of the family, a lion rampant ; and on the same side of the chamber is a very beautiful frieze with the arms of the Pandolfini, brought from the Badia.
The three rudely-sculptured statues on the left, of the Virgin and Child, St. Peter and St. Paul, came from a chapel outside the Porta Romana. Some very lovely decorative sculpture round a shrine, brought from the Ceperelli Palace in the Borgo degli Albizzi, is the work of Benedetto da Rovezzano.
A large coloured lunette of Robbia ware, representing the Adoration of the Child, was brought from the Convent of San Vivaldo at Monte Ajone, in the direction of Arezzo ; a Multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, have descended on the roof; beneath which is the Child ; they are peculiarly lovely and graceful. An exquisite canopy, from one of the smaller doors of the cloisters of Santa Maria Novella, is attached to the wall above the entrance. The very fine marble head of the Saviour is by Matteo Civitali of Luna (1455-1507), There are several other objects of interest in this room, which is, however, generally closed to the public by a grating.
On the same side of the court were the prisons for the magnates or nobles. They consisted of six or seven cells, one of which was quite dark. In the floor of the passage, along which the prisoner was conducted to his dungeon, is another oubliette or trap door, through which he sometimes disappeared.
To the right, under the arcade, is an elaborately wrought fanale or lantern of the seventeenth century. On the walls round, above the arcade, are sculptured the arms of two hundred and four Podestàs, who successively ruled Florence after the expulsion of the Duke of Athens ; the latest are those near the staircase.
Three sides of the court have an arcade composed of Gothic ribbed vaulting, springing from foliated mensole or brackets in the walls, and resting on massive columns, which, though of so great a size, are hardly commensurate with the prodigious width of the arches, and the height of the walls above ; these walls were at one time lower, as the uppermost story is a later addition, and injures the proportions of the building. Beneath the roof of the arcade, at the entrance, are shields bearing the arms of the Duke of Athens, the lion ram-pant united with the lilies of France. Four smaller shields in the centre have the arms of Florence, the red and white shield; the red cross on a white field, the red lily on a white field, and the eagle with a dragon in its claws, a device adopted by the Guelphs after the defeat of Manfred, at the battle of Benevento, 1266only six years after the Podestà Guido Novello came to this palace, and first made it the residence of those holding office.
Within the first arch of the arcade are the remains of the frescoes with which the whole was once adorned. Stone tablets have been recently inserted in the walls, bearing the arms of the ancient divisions of the cityQuartieri and Sestieri. The Dove of the Holy Spirit for Santo Spirito ; the Cross for Santa Croce ; the Sun for Santa Maria Novella ; and the Baptistery gilt, with the double keys above, for San Giovanni ; these formed the quarters of Florence. The Sestieri, or six parts into which the city was afterwards divided, have the following emblems :the Sesto del Duomo has the Baptistery represented after the sarcophagi had been removed, but when the steps still remained on which some of them were placed, proving that the building was even then raised above the level of the pavement of the piazza ; the Sesto di San Piero Maggiore has the keys of St. Peter ; the Sesto di San Piero Scheraggio, the wheel of the Fiesolan Caroccio ; the Sesto di Borgo, a black goat ; San Pancrazio, a dragon’s claw ; and the Sesto of Oltr’ Arno, a bridge with three arches.
In the centre of the court is a well, near which were beheaded many whose names are famous in history, and among them is said to have been executed the hero of Massimo d’ Azeglio’s romance, Nicolô de’ Lapi, who is described as a type of the Florentine in the days of the republic : ` Of a po. olano or plebeian family, one of the captains of the Guild of Silk, who could boast of having maintained his integrity during eighty-nine years, always faithful to his country and to the popular government, in whose cause he had frequently exposed his person and his possessions ; one to whom it never occurred to boast of conduct which alone appeared possible to a man of his nature.’
Nicolo de’ Lapi was one of many victims sacrificed after the siege of Florence, in 1530, when the degenerate descendants of’ Silvestro de’ Medici, corrupted by the long possession of power, and assisted by the Imperialists, destroyed the republican freedom of their native city, which their great ancestor had helped to establish.
The beautiful staircase leading to the Loggia above was built by Agnolo Gaddi, who selected, as an example, another staircase in the municipal palace at Poppi, in the Casentino ; a lion is seated on the column at the foot, and two other lions are above the iron gates. The Loggia is attributed to Andrea Orcagna (1308?-1368). It was divided by the Medici of the sixteenth century into three chambers ; that at the farther end was the condemned cell ; in the centre a passage led across the street of the Vigna Vecchia, like the Bridge of Sighs at Venice, to the opposite houses, which were converted into a prison for women. These houses were on the site of the old church of Sant’ Apollinare ; a few sepulchral tablets in the walls, still to be seen from the windows of the Bargello, are all that remain of the former cloister.
At the end of the Loggia, over a small door, is an exquisitely-carved and perforated marble decoration, lately repaired by uniting the sixty fragments into which it had been broken. In the centre of the Loggia is a bell of a very elegant form, which was taken from a small church near Pisa, the work of one Bartolommeo, who has inscribed his own name upon it, and who accompanied the Emperor Frederick II. to Germany, where he was employed to build churches.
On the right of the Loggia is the entrance to a magnificent hall. in beautiful proportions, the work of Agnolo Gaddi. During the reigns of the last Grand Dukes, Ferdinand III. and Leopold II., this hall, divided into four floors containing thirty-four cells, was generally filled with prisoners of state, some of whom were of no mean condition. The ceiling is vaulted, and the original distemper painting in various colours has been restored in excellent taste ; it is low in tone, and harmonises with the solemn effect produced by the vast space, the massive proportions of the pilasters, and the enormous thickness of the walls. The windows with old circular panes are deepest, with steps ascending to them. The upper range of windowsfor there are twohave the arms of Florence painted on the glass. Two small doorways at the farther end of this room lead to another chamber. Between these doors are three statues ; the centre is the celebrated figure of the dying Adonis, by Michael Angelo (1475-1564), which was originally in the Palace of the Poggio Imperiale, whence it was brought to the Uffizi, and lately removed to this Museum. The wounded huntsman has fallen across the boar ; the parted lips and drooping eyelids show the languor of approaching death ; his head is supported by one arm, whilst his grasp of the horn, which is still between his fingers, is relaxing. The form is youthful, yet grand in outline, and more highly finished than is usual with Michael Angelo ; above, is a bust of Duke Cosimo. A noble allegorical group, the Victory, by Michael Angelo, is on the right of the Adonis ; on the left, Virtue subduing Vice, by Giovanni da Bologna. At the opposite end of the hall, near the entrance, is a statue of the Grand Duke Cosimo I., in the garb of a Roman soldier, by Vincenzio Danti; and statues of Adam and Eve, by Baccio Bandinelli (1488-1560). Six clumsy groups are ranged around the walls ; they are the work of Baccio Bandinelli, Vincenzio Danti, and Vincenzio Rossi, and represent the Labours of Hercules.
These statues will probably ere long be all transferred to the Cinque Cento Hall of the Palazzo Vecchio.
In the centre of the right wall is David, by Donatello (13861466) ; the head of Goliath at his feet. The youth stands firmly, one hand on his hip, his head raised in the triumph of victory. The Bacchus opposite, in a state of intoxication, is also by Michael Angelo, executed by him in Rome, when he was only nineteen years of age. Mr. John Bell calls this statue `superb, although touched more with the grandeur characterising the sublimity of that great artist than the gay, pleasant, careless, débonnaire spirit applicable to the God of Joyousness.’ Though classical in form, the reeling intoxication of the god diminishes his dignity, and Michael Angelo’s statue is, in this respect, inferior to the representations of the same subject on Greek gems ; the outline of the figure is round and youthful ; the little Faun, looking up archly, and eating the grapes which Bacchus holds unconsciously behind him, is well imagined, and true to child-nature.
Twelve marble reliefs by Luca della Robbia (14001482),
intended for the front of the organ-loft in the Cathedral, illustrate the 150th Psalm, and are the most celebrated works of this sculptor, before he commenced his peculiar enamel. The graceful movements of the children, youths, and maidens, who sing, dance, and play musical instruments, can hardly be exceeded. The artist does not hesitate to introduce some actions and expressions which, in less refined hands, would have appeared vulgar ; as, for instance, that of the youth who clutches the hair of the boy singing in front of him, and the little girl who stops her ears at the clash of the cymbals ; and he even gives the grimaces usually made in singing. Several of these reliefs, however, show a study of the antiqueas, for instance, the boy playing the organ.l There are four reliefs by Donatello, which were also intended for the organ-loft of the Cathedral, but in their present position, it is impossible to judge of their merits. Donatello had, as usual, well considered and calculated the effect of distance in the place his work was intended to occupy, and these boy-angels are full of animation and life ; though less refined, and treated in a bolder and more sketchy manner, than the figures by Luca della Robbia.
A very finely sculptured chimney-piece, by Benedetto da Rovezzano (1474-1552), formerly in the Palazzo del Turco in the Via SS. Apostoli, is to be placed in this hall.
The chamber adjoining this grand hall was the ante-room to the audience chamber of the Podestà. The ceiling with beams and walls are painted in a low tone of colour. A case containing fine Venetian glass of the sixteenth century is exhibited in this room, as well as some chests of inlaid wood to contain the linen of a bride is also sixteenth-century work.
The audience chamber of the Podestà, which follows, was occupied by Walter de Brienne, Duke of Athens, during his short reign ; his coat-of-arms, which he had caused to be painted on the walls, was effaced, after his expulsion from Florence, but it has been recently restored. A curious old fire-place, with dogs and fire-irons, is left in the same condition as in the time of the tyrant. Two centuries later this room was converted into dungeons. At the end nearest the chapel was a narrow cell raised a few steps from the floor and left completely dark, where Fra Paolo, a notorious bravo, was for thirty years chained to the wall with an iron collar round his neck, and his hands and feet loaded with fetters. His clothes dropped in rags from his body before he ended his miserable existence at the age of eighty-one. Fra Paolo was, in his youth, a Franciscan friar, but left the monastery to follow a lawless life, and became a robber and assassin. The Grand Duke Ferdinand II., though a patron of science and art, like his brother Cardinald Leopold de’ Medici, hired this wretch to rid him of obnoxious persons in Florence and the neighbourhood. When the work was accomplished, Fra Paolo was allowed to fall into the hands of justice, whilst his employer continued in undisturbed possession of his throne.
A portion of this chamber was used as a kitchen to prepare food for the prisoners, and other inhabitants of the palace. On a shelf close to the entrance is a case containing a small group in wax, executed with marvellous delicacy and finish of detail, the work of Gaetano Zumbo, a Sicilian, who lived in the reign of the Grand Duke Cosimo III. The dead body of the Saviour in this Pietà is represented with painful reality ; the relaxation of the limbs immediately after death and the expression of suffering are only too faithfully rendered.
Three more cases in this room contain waxen groups, by the same artist, of the effects of the Plague, a most unpleasant representation.
There is also a collection of splendid Majolica and Urbino ware in cases in the centre, brought to Florence by Vittoria della Rovere, a Princess of the House of Urbino, and wife of the Grand Duke Ferdinand II. It is here only on loan.
A huge vase of Aretine red clay is on the side next the fireplace.
When the audience chamber of the Podestà was converted into a kitchen, the chapel beyond was used as a larder, and to economise space it was divided by a floor into two stories, the upper part forming other cells, in which debtors were confined It was only in 1841 that these partitions were pulled down, and the whitewash removed which had covered the frescoes on the walls for centuries. The chapel consists of a single nave, with a simple waggon roof. Mr. Kirkup, an English artist and antiquary long resident in Florence, was the first to suggest that a lost portrait of the poet Dante, by Giotto, must exist on these walls. Assisted by Signor Bezzi, a Piedmontese, and Mr. Wilde, an American, Mr. Kirkup at length obtained leave to make an examination ; and they employed for this purpose Signor Antonio Marini, the expense being defrayed by the Cavaliere Montalvo and the Marchese Ballad Nerli, The first fresco uncovered brought to light the heads of angels ; below them appeared the portraits of Dante and his master, Brunetto Latini, with other persons walking in procession. The leaders are a crowned person, and a cardinal, supposed by some to represent King Robert of Naples, who came to Florence in 1310, and Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto, who visited the city ten years later : others consider the crowned head to be Charles of Valois, sent by Pope Boniface VIII., in 1301, and his companion, Cardinal Matteo d’ Acquasparta, who about the same period endeavoured to restore peace to Florence ; but all this is merely conjectural. A prisoner in one of the destroyed cells is supposed to have knocked a nail into the wall, or, as the discoverers believe, the painter Marini clumsily fastened his scaffolding just where was the eye of Dante, which had therefore to be repainted. During the process of restoration, the fresco was enclosed in a shed and placed under lock and key, and, whilst thus concealed, the authorities ordered the poet’s dress to be changed from green, white, and red, as Giotto left it, to dull purple and brown. The obnoxious colours were not alone those in which Dante describes Beatrice in paradise, and emblematical from a very early period of Faith, Hope, and Charity, but, as such, had been adopted by the Freemasons at the foundation of their confraternity, and are still the badge of the democratic party.
In the `Jahrbuch der Deutschen Dante-Gesellschaft,’ published 1869, the author of an article on the poet’s portrait, Dr. Theodor Paur, gives a full description of its discovery, and the theories started regarding its authenticity (pp. 297-330). Villani, the historian of the fourteenth century, and Vasari, who wrote in the sixteenth, record the existence of a portrait of Dante, by Giotto, in the chapel of the Palace of the Podestà. In 1832, Dante’s biographer, M. Missirini, endeavoured to call public attention to the subject ; and in 184o the discovery was made beneath the whitewash, by Signor Bezzi, Mr. Wilde, and Mr. Kirkup. The conduct of the artist employed, Signor Marini, in altering the colours and retouching the fresco by command of the Grand Ducal Government, is severely though justly censured. From page 308, the question whether Giotto really was the painter, is closely examined. The first doubts were started in 1864, the year previous to the jubilee held in honour of the birth of the great Italian poet. The commissioners appointed for this examination consisted of Commendatore Gaetano Milanesi and the late Count Luigi Passerini ; and they came at first to the conclusion that the portrait was by a scholar of Giotto, and therefore assigned it a later date ; which opinion was, however, opposed to that of the Cavaliere Cavalcaselle. Dante was born in 1265, and died 1321 ; Giotto was born about 1266, and died 1336.
The Palace of the Podestâ, or Bargello, is said to have been twice burnt, first in 1332, and secondly in 1342 ; Giovan Villani, describing the first fire, proceeds thus : `Arse tutto il tetto del vecchio Palazzo e le due parti del nuovo delle prime volte in su.’ The chapel is not mentioned, but it could hardly be supposed that the frescoes within would have escaped all injury. The second fire, which is supposed to have taken place after the expulsion of Walter de Brienne, Duke of Athens, appears to be somewhat apocryphal.
In the life of Giotto, written in Latin by Filippo Villani, the portrait of Dante is described as a picture on panelin tabulapainted for the altar of this chapel ; but in an Italian translation of the work, made during the lifetime of the author, the painting is called a fresco on the wall. The Florentine commission accepted the Latin version, and supposed the portrait to have been in the altar-piece which has disappeared. The advocates for the fresco being an original work by Giotto, contend that Villani himself corrected in the Italian the error he had committed in his Latin description. Pr. Theodor Paur leans to this opinion, which is that of the Cavaliere Cavalcaselle.. The German author concludes his exposition of the arguments on ‘ both sides in these words : ` The positive solution of this question remains a subject for critical research. I can only succeed by historical facts to disperse the clouds which have gathered round this precious object. As long as no new or sounder reasons can be discovered than those which have hitherto been advanced against the authorship, so long will the portrait of Dante in the Bargellonot as Marini has disguised it, but as it was first foundbe esteemed by me a work of Giotto.
The subjects of the paintings facing the window are taken from the history and legends of Mary Magdalene and of St. Mary in Egypt; though much injured, they retain great beauty in parts, such as where St. Mary in Egypt is receiving the blessing of Bishop Zosimus; though most of the fresco is effaced, her head is very lovely ; again, the earnest expression of Mary Magdalene in the ` Noli me tangere,’ is beautifully given. On either side of the window is the legend of St. Nicholas of Bari, and the Daughter of Herodias Dancing. At the farther end, next the door, is a representation of the Condemned at the Last Judgment, as the opposite painting of Dante and his companions is supposed to represent the Blessed. The pictures below this fresco are of a much later date ; one is St. Jerome, the other a Madonna ; both, especially the picture of St. Jerome, possess much merit, though the artist’s name is uncertain. In a cabinet below is a collection of church plate ; consisting of the bust of a bishop in silver and gold, with crosses and sacramental cups, brought from the Palazzo Vecchio.
A silver tablet, in another case, on which is engraved the Coronation of the Virgin, is well worthy of observation : it is what is called Niello work, and is attributed to Maso Finiguerra (14261464), a Florentine.’ The Crucifixion, also in Niello work, is supposed to be by Matteo Dei. A coloured enamel, representing the Deposition from the Cross, is by one of the Pollajoli.
The reading desk and seats of the choir, which belonged to the chapel of the Monastery of Monte Uliveto, are inlaid with fine intarsiatura work. That at the back of the principal or central chair represents the cripple at the Pool of Bethesda.
Returning to the audience chamber, the hall to the left was formerly the guard-room, and the hooks still remain in the walls to which the soldiers of the Podestâ hung their halberds. This room was in later times divided into four prisons. It now contains, cabinets with specimens of finely carved amber and ivory; on some of which are the Medicean balls. A wonderful piece of wood-carving on the wall is by our countryman, Grinling Gib-bons. As there is no catalogue, and many of the articles in this Museum are loans, liable to be withdrawn, and therefore only in part ticketed, the visitor must rely on his own know-ledge and discernment to discover those of greatest value.
Both the apartments which follow were inhabited by the Podestà and his family before they were converted into prisons. The colour of the ceiling is new, but in harmony with the style of wall-painting used at the period when the Bargello was the municipal palace. The supports for the beams, or brackets, were wanting, but casts were taken from those in the old municipal palace of Poppi, in the Casentino, the same building which furnished Agnolo Gaddi with a model for the staircase, and the present brackets were carved from these casts, and fixed in their places under the ceiling. The arms of the Podestâs are painted below, but they belong to a later period than the reign of the Duke of Athens.
These two apartments contain some of the most interesting and valuable treasures of the Museum, which have lately been removed here from the Gallery of the Uffizi. Nearest the door, turning to the left, are two small anatomical figures in wax and bronze, the work of the painter Cigoli (1559-1613). In the centre of the room is the bronze statue of David, by Donatello, one of the master’s noblest productions : a broad-brimmed shepherd’s hat with a garland of leaves covers the head of the youth, and casts a shadow over the upper part of his face ; from beneath it, his flowing locks reach to his shoulders ; he grasps a sword in his right hand, his left rests on his hip ; his feet and legs are cased in greaves, and one foot is placed on the head of Goliath. The figure is dignified and graceful, and a smile of triumph plays upon his lips.
On a bracket near the wall is placed a splendid head of an old woman, with a cloth or veil round it, which was apparently taken from a cast after death, attributed to Il Vecchietta (1412 ?-148o), who was a celebrated goldsmith, architect, sculptor, and painter.’ A peacock, by Giovanni da Bologna, is one of a series of birds executed for the Grand Duke Francis I. for his country palace of Pratolino ; the eagle, in the next room, and several other birds, are superior to the peacock. In a cabinet under glass are copies of ancient bronzes, and some original works by artists of the sixteenth century.
To the right of the entrance, within the larger room, is a bust of Michael Angelo ; in the centre of the wall, facing the window, is a bust of the Grand Duke Cosimo when young, by Benvenuto Cellini (15001571)the artist’s first attempt at bronze-casting on so large a scale : as he was constantly with Cosimo, he must have been well acquainted with his face, and the sinister ill-tempered expression of the bust corresponds with the acts and character of the man.
At the end of the room is the monument of Marino Socino by Il Vecchietta (1412 ?-148o). Mr. Perkins describes this bronze ` as an excellent specimen of the hard dry style of the master.’ 2 It was originally in San Domenico of Sienna. Marino Socino was a learned jurist, and belonged to the family of the two more celebrated Socini or Socinus, uncle and nephew, who were obliged to fly their country and to undergo a life-long persecution for denying the doctrine of the Trinity.
On the wall, near this monument, are the reliefs in bronze gilt, by Filippo Brunelleschi (13771446) and Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455), which they executed when competing for the gates of the Baptistery. The subject of both is Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac. Ghiberti’s work is undoubtedly superior, although the angel grasping the arm of Abraham in Brunelleschi’s is very fine ; but the action of the patriarch, holding his son’s head back to cut his throat, has too much of the butcher. In Ghiberti’s relief, Isaac presents his own throat to his father, whilst shrinking from the knife with a natural dread. The servants with the ass are treated somewhat differently from the relief in the gate itself.
A small bronze sarcophagus to the left, facing the window, is also by Ghiberti ; and the following narrative concerning it is related by Vasari.’ The brothers Cosimo Pater Patrie and Lorenzo de’ Medici, the ancestors of the two branches of the Medicean family, were desirous to do honour to the relics of three martyrs, Proteus, Hyacinthus, and Nemesius, whose bones had been preserved in the Casentino, and they accordingly ordered Ghiberti to construct a bronze chest to receive them. Ghiberti proposed to adorn it with a bas-relief of angels sustaining a garland of olive-leaves, within which to inscribe the names of the martyrs. The chest, when finished, was placed in the Monastery of the Angeli, at Florence, and was so greatly admired that the Wardens of Santa Maria del Fiore selected Ghiberti to construct the bronze sarcophagus for the body of St. Zenobius, now at the end of the Cathedral. When the French, in the last century, gained possession of Tuscany, and waged war on monastic institutions, they suppressed the Monastery of the Angeli ; and the chest containing the relics of these three martyrs was stolen, broken up, and sold for the value of the metal ; but the pieces were fortunately afterwards recovered, and ingeniously put together. It has lately been brought to the Bargello from the Uffizi.
Above the monument of Socinus, on the wall, is a bronze relief of the Crucifixion, by Antonio Pollajolo (1429-1498), and, below it, a relief of Children, by Donatello. Still higher, upon brackets, are two little models by Giovanni da Bologna for his celebrated statue of Mercury, in the centre of this room. The comparison between the models and the finished statue, thus brought into juxtaposition, is very interesting ; and the models, in which the hand of the artist obeyed the first impulse of his mind, are certainly in this instance as in many, superior to the larger work. The corrections suggested by criticism, or by the artist’s own sense of accuracy of proportion, anatomy, or propriety, appear to interfere with the thought or motive which his subject is meant to represent ; and it requires a higher order of genius than that of Giovanni da Bologna to produce perfection of parts and accuracy of details, with freedom and spiritual beautymaking the material the true expression of a poetical idea. The statue of Mercury is stiffer, more angular, and the attitude more forced than either of the models ; and, with all its merits, has neither their grace nor elegance of outline. One of these is pre-eminently excellent in the expression of movement ; the god does not bend to make his spring as in the statue, but darts upwards, without apparent effort, lightly and swiftly, as the arrow from the bow.
The same superiority may be remarked in Giovanni da Bologna’s model for the Rape of the Sabines, near one of the windows ; and here, even in definition of form, in careful attention to detail, and in beauty of outline, the model surpasses the finished group under the Loggia de’ Lanzi. Near the bust of the Grand Duke Cosimo L is a wax model, and a repetition in bronze by Benvenuto Cellini, for his statue of Perseus with the Medusa’s head.
The original moulds for the series of small gold reliefs in the Gem Room of the Uffizi Gallery, representing incidents in the life of the Grand Duke Francis I., are worthy of notice.
The David of Andrea Verocchio (1435-1488), the master of Leonardo da Vinci, is near the Mercury of Giovanni da Bologna. The head of Goliath is behind David, who is clothed in armour ; the slender figure and thin arms of the growing boy are in contrast with the gigantic head at his feet ; his feeble hand holds rather than grasps the sword, whilst the effort with which it has been wielded may be traced in the swollen veins of the arm.
The apartments on the upper storey of the Bargello have no tradition attached to them, and are supposed to have contained the library of the palace, before they also were converted into dungeons ; they now form part of the Museum. To the left of the door, as well as on the wall facing the entrance, are tempera paintings on a gigantic scale by Andrea del Castagno (1390 ?-1457), which were brought here from a hall in the Villa Pandolfini at Legnaia, beyond the Porta San Frediano of Florence. The painter was a contemporary of Paolo Uccello, and was born in 1300, in a village a few miles out of Florence ; he received his education as an artist through the generous patronage of one of the Medici. The subjects he has chosen here are supposed portraits of Dante, Petrarch, Bocaccio, Farinata degli Uberti, and the Ghibelline hero Pippo Spano, who was a wealthy merchant, the patron of the painter Masolino, and a valiant conqueror of the Turks ; also Nicolo Acciajuoli, another rich Florentine, who, when created Seneschal to Robert King of Naples, revisited his native city, and built the Certosa or Carthusian monastery beyond the Porta Romana. Besides these, Andrea Castagno has painted ideal portraits of Queen Esther, Tomiris, and the Cumaean Sibyls. These paintings are thus described by Signor Cavalcaselle : `To gain a correct impression of them, indeed, these figures should be seen in their original places, where their supernatural size, the bold grandeur of their attitudes, and something of the classical in their appearance, would give them still greater value. Pippo Spano, in a defiant attitude bending the steel of his rapier in his two hands and with legs apart, challenges the world, and seems capable of victory. There is dignity in the parts, slender wiry activity in the Sibyls, with that peculiarity of length in neck and limb, and exaggerated size in the extremities, which characterises the later Pollaioli and Botticelli. Study of the antique is clear in the half-figure of Esther, yet the coarse vigour of Andrea is visible in a large and common hand. Castagno in fact shows an impetuous spirit, in bold freedom of action and outline, in the dash with which the colours are used ; a knowledge of antique examples, in classic costumes and head-dress. His tones are of the hue of brick in the flesh-tints of males ; of a more delicate yellowish tinge in the Sibyls, broadly modelled with a brush full of liquid medium.” A fresco of a Pietà, to the right of the entrance, is said to be by Domenico Ghirlandaio ; but though possessing great merits, is hardly equal to the master, and is more probably by his brother Benedetto (1458-1497). Another fresco of the Urbino school, a Madonna and Child, is graceful and tender. The paintings at the end of the room, to the left of the entrance, are by unknown hands : that in the centre was found in the Bargello ; the other two were taken from Santa Maria Novella, and are attributed to Giottino.
In an apartment beyond is a fine collection of Della Robbia ware and sculpture. At the end is a noble marble statue of St. Matthew, by Ghiberti (1378-1455), which formerly stood in a niche of Or San Michele, but was removed to make room for the statue of the same saint still occupying that place. This statue is so fine that we may wonder at the exchange. The expression of the head is very beautiful, and the drapery is arranged with antique simplicity and grandeur. The cornice, or frame of the niche in which the statue is placed, is the delicate workmanship of Mino da Fiesole (1431-1484), and was made for the tabernacle in the Uffizi Gallery, painted by Fra Angelico for the Arte dei Linajoliflax merchantswhose residence was beside the church of Sant’ Andrea near the Mercato Vecchio.
The peculiar merits which render Robbia wareof which there are so many fine specimens in this roomso valuable, cannot be better described than in the words of the German critic Burkhardt:` The enamel, in which white prevails most, is remarkable for a delicacy of surface difficult to attain, and which follows every slight modelling of the form nearly in perfection. The Robbias, from technical incapacity in the beginning, but afterwards from artistic reasons, kept strictly to four coloursyellow, green, blue, and violet. It was only later that, yielding to the fashion of the day, they occasionally attempted to imitate the colour of flesh ; but even then they kept within certain boundaries; all figures, whether intended for ornament, accessories, or principal, even though nude, were not painted to produce an illusion like wax ; warm colour and rich details would have interfered with the plastic effect, and were carefully avoided, so that the laws of sculpture were not infringed. By this school we became acquainted with the spirit of the fifteenth century in Its loveliest aspect. The principles of the naturalistic school lie at the foundation, but expressed with a simplicity, sweetness, and religious fervour which approaches the high style. What is most remarkable is, that every inch is a new and original creation, not a mere cast from a clay mould.’
The examples of Della Robbia ware in this room have been chiefly taken from suppressed convents. A very lovely circular medallion of the Madonna and Child with worshipping angels, is to the right of St. Matthew. The Virgin holds the Child’s foot tenderly in her hand ; the frame is composed of the daisy and wild flowers delicately executed. The large coloured relief beside the door is of the later period, and represents the Worship of the Child ; it is surrounded by lovely angels. The flesh in several of the figures is without the enamel. This relief was brought from a convent near the Zecca Vecchia. On the wall facing the entrance is a lovely Madonna and Child, with the donator and a monk kneeling below from Vallombrosa. A coloured lunette above represents a Pietà, and, as well as the lunette of the Annunciation over the door of the room, was brought from the SS. Annunziata. The most beautiful Della Robbia ware here is the Madonna and Child, in the centre of the wall to the left of the entrance; below it, is a fine stone carving by Donatello. Near this is a painted window of the school of Raffaelle, pale in colour, in which yellow and brown predominate. The Ascension of Christ on the opposite wall was taken from Monte Uliveto. A large Pietà, at the. farther end of the room, is from the church of San Martino, in the Via della Scala ; in the predella below are represented the swaddled infants of the Innocenti.
A statuette of St. Dominic, also of Robbia ware, with a vase of lilies and white roses and a garland of fruit, upheld by two cherubs over the niche in which the saint stands, was once within the precincts of the Monastery of Santa Croce ; the predella beneath this statue has a representation of Christ pouring His blood over the wafer in the cup.
Terra-cotta busts are ranged round the room. Some of them are attributed to one of the Pollajoli, and are very good examples of this style of art. The bust of Niccolo d’ Uzzano is believed to be by Donatello (1386-1466). It was presented to this Museum by the Marchese Carlo Capponi, belonging to the younger branch of that family, a lineal descendant from Uzzano, whose daughter Ginevra married a Capponi. The Capponi Palace, in the Via dei Bardi, is that which was built by Niccolo d’ Uzzano for himself. He was an honest de-fender of the liberty of his country, and living in turbulent times, when the Albizzi and the Medici were struggling for power, it was not until after his death, in 1433, that Cosimo de’ Medici was able to seize the Government of Florence. This bust is full of life and truth, and is finished with marvellous care and attention to detail, even to every wrinkle in the face, the peculiar form of the ears, and a mole on the upper lip. The drapery is simple, and arranged in huge folds.
There is also a curious bust misnamed Oliver Cromwell, with glass eyes, which give a certain appearance of life to the face.
The small model for Winter, a statue at Castello, one of the country seats of the Grand Dukes near Florence, is by Giovanni da Bologna, or by his pupil Cioli.
A case in the centre of this room contains the steel dies for the coins and medals of Tuscany. Among them is one by Benvenuto Cellini for a medal of Clement VII. A smaller case contains specimens of Florentine coins during the Re-public, as well as when it became a Duchy.
The next chamber is irregular in shape, owing to one end being filled by the walls of the tower which contained the dungeons entered by low doors, now built up. Some curious old Florentine furniture is here exhibited.
Returning to the room containing the paintings by Andrea del Castagno, a door leads to a suite of three rooms beyond. The room to the right is hung with some fine Gobelin tapestry, dating between 1742 and 1745, by Jean Audran (1667-1756), after designs of Jean Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755). They represent Louis XIV. and his Court, hunting in the Forest of Fontainebleau. One of the series of Esther and Mordecai, also by Audran, after the design of Jean François de Troye (1679-1752), is at one end of this room. The six others of the series are hung in the Gallery of Tapestries in the Via Laura, and there are replicas of the whole series at Windsor Castle. This room also contains a collection of medals and seals,
The adjoining room has some very interesting marble bas-reliefs. On the wall to the right is the portrait of a lady in a singular head-dress, Elisabetta Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, the wife of Guidobaldo I. and the daughter-in-law of Federigo di Montefeltro. Elisabetta was one of the most distinguished women Italy ever produced ; she was not so much celebrated for her learning as for her virtue, and for her patronage of literary men and artists, among whom was the youthful Raffaelle. The Court of Urbino at that time may be compared to the Court of Weimar in the days of Goethe and Schiller, though purer in tone and manners owing to Elisabetta’s noble character, which exercised a beneficial influence on all who approached her. She was devoted to her husband Guidobaldo, who was a martyr to gout, and to whom she was married in 1486. When. Pope Alexander VI. deprived the Duke of Urbino of his States, to bestow them on his nephew Cesare Borgia, Duke of Valentino, Guidobaldo and Elizabetta took refuge in her paternal home at Mantua ; but their persecution did not cease with the abandonment of their dominions, for Cesare Borgia wished to, marry Elisabetta, and proposed that Guidobaldo should divorce his wife, and receive in reward a Cardinal’s hat. His infamous suit was supported by Louis XII. of France, who wished to promote the views of Borgia, but the courage and firmness of Elisabetta preserved her, and after the deaths of Alexander and Cesare, Guidobaldo was restored to Urbino. He was, however, forced a second time to resign his duchy by Pope Leo X. Elisabetta died in Mantua in 1526, having survived her husband eighteen years. Count Baldassare Castiglione in his work, ‘The Cortigiano,’ thus describes the Court of the Duchess of Urbino :’ Here were found united the utmost decorum with the greatest freedom, and in her presence the games and laughter, and even the most witty sallies, were tempered by that modesty and dignity which governed all the words and actions of the Duchess ; for in her very jests and merriment she could be known to be a lady of high breeding, even by those who had never before seen her, and her influence on all surrounding her was such, that all seemed moulded to her quality and ways, and each strove to imitate her bearing or follow her example in that refinement of manners which they acquired from the presence of so accomplished a lady.” The peculiar ornaments on the borders of her dress in this relief were probably emblems relating to her horoscope, or were symbolical of her virtues, a custom not unusual in those days. The original of this portrait may be seen in the collection of medals of the House of Urbino in the Gallery of the Uffizi.
A little lower down to the right of this relief is the portrait of Elisabetta’s father-in-law, Federigo di Montefeltro, easily recognised by his broken nose ; to the left is a singularly life-like portrait of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan ; he visited Florence in 1471, to conclude a treaty with Lorenzo de’ Medici, who on this occasion displayed a magnificence exceeding anything ever witnessed in that age ; Galeazzo was a cruel, bad man, and was murdered in the church of St. Stephen at Milan in 1476. Beneath the portrait of Elisabetta is a relief by Andrea Verocchio, the master of Leonardo da Vinci, and represents the death in childbirth of Selvaggia di Marco of the family of the Alessandri in 1476, while her husband Francesco Tornabuoni was in Rome ; he caused a beautiful monument to be erected to her memory in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, of which nothing now remains but this relief, which was brought to Florence.
On the walls of this room are five other reliefs, representing scenes from the life of San Giovanni Gualberto, the founder of the Monastery of Vallombrosa. The artist was Benedetto da Rovezzano (1474-1552), who was born in a village not far from Maiano in the neighbourhood of Florence, from whence came another sculptor, also of the name of Benedetto. These reliefs were made for the monastery of the Salvi near Florence, where they were grievously injured by the troops of the Prince of Orange during the siege of 1529. The subjects are as follows : first, the translation or conveyance of the saint’s body to its place of burial, when the blind and the halt were brought to be healed. Secondly, an incident in the saint’s life : San Giovanni Gualberto was a determined enemy of simony in the Church. ` Pietro of Pavia, a man of infamous character,’ as related by Mrs. Jameson, `having purchased the archbishopric of Florence, he was denounced by Gualberto. Pietro in revenge sent a band of soldiers who burnt and pillaged the Monastery of San Salvi and murdered several of the monks.’ Another relief represents St. Peter Igneus, a Vallombrosian monk, who, after receiving the blessing of Gualberto, submitted to the ordeal of fire in front of the Badia at Settimo near Florence, to disprove the accusations raised against his master by the Archbishop of Florence, Pietro of Pavia, who was in consequence deposed. Fourthly, San Giovanni Gualberto, exorcising a demon which had tormented one of his monks upon his sick bed ; and finally, the death of the saint. This last relief has, however, been attributed to a scholar of Rovezzano. The elegant friezes with arabesques in this room are likewise by Rovezzano, and were intended to adorn the chapel which contained the reliefs.
On the left wall a relief of the youthful head of St. John the Baptist, with lips apart, and wide open eyes, is by Donatello; two small reliefs are by Pierino da Vinci (1520?-1554?), and by Mino da Fiesole (1431-1484). At either corner are busts : one represents Pietro Mellini, at whose expense Benedetto da Majano carved the pulpit of Santa Croce ; the other, Matteo Palmieri, an historian, better known by the ‘ Decamerone’ of Boccaccio, as the tales are supposed to have been related in the garden of his villa near Florence. Between the windows is the statue of an angel playing the violin, attributed to Niccolâ Pisano (1205 ?-1278), refined in form, and graceful in action, and well worthy of attention.
In the centre of the room is Donatello’s statue of St. John the Baptist. The statue has a painfully famished appearance, whilst displaying wonderful skill and knowledge of anatomy, as well as power of expression. The lines of composition are agreeable on whichever side the statue is seen, and the rough, bold touches, which give surface to the camel’s hair garment, aid, by their contrast, the effect produced by the high finish and polished surface of the head, body, and limbs ; the large eyes, pinched nose, and contracted brow, the body inclined backwards, to balance the tottering limbs, remind the spectator of the sufferings caused by the long fasts of the ascetic, and these details are given with truly Florentine dramatic power, though defective in that poetic feeling which should have represented the grandeur of the prophet, rather than the infirmity of the man.
In one corner of this apartment is the bust of Rinaldo della Luna, by Mino da Fiesole. The Luna family had an apothecary’s shop, and adopted this name from the sign of their pharmacy.
In the centre of the last room are four statues, three of which are of great interest. St. John the Baptist, by Benedetto da Maiano (1442-1497), though attenuated, has much elegance, and a sweet youthful expression ; the hands are graceful ; it is simple in attitude, and has a look of inspiration ; the sandals, the hair, and the garment of camel’s hair have been gilt. This statue is not as correct, but more agreeable, than that of Donatello in the second room. The sketch by Michael Angelo, called here Apollo, but more probably intended for St. Sebastian, is a marvellous proof of the power of the artist who, in an unfinished work could convey an idea of so much life and even beauty. A young Bacchus by Sansovino, though graceful, is rather affected ; he is crowned with vine leaves, and is looking at the cup he holds in his hand.
To the left of the entrance to this room is a bust, called Macchiavelli, but the portrait is not authenticated ; another bust, that of Pier il Gottosothe Goutythe son of Cosimo Pater Patriæ, and father of Lorenzo the Magnificent, is the work of Mino da Fiesole.
In the centre of this wall is a marble relief of a Madonna and Child, also by Mino da Fiesole.
Facing the windows is a very beautiful marble relief of the Holy Family, by Antonio Rossellino (14271479 ?). The ‘Virgin is adoring the Child ; St. Joseph beside them ; and, in the distance, the angel is announcing the good tidings to the shepherds ; ten heads of lovely seraphim surround the whole.. Below is a frieze, Children sustaining a Garland, by Jacopo della Quercia, which once formed part of the monument to Ilaria Guinigi at Lucca, so much praised by Ruskin in his ‘ Modern Painters.
To the left is a relief representing Faith, by Matteo Civitali of Lucca (1455-1507). Civitali was one of the best sculptors of his age, rich as it was in artists of genius ; his most important works are in his native city ; but this refined and graceful figure, simple, and filled with religious fervour, may give some idea of the master. On the other side is a Madonna and Child, by Andrea Verocchio.
Near this is a very good statue of a youthful St. John, by Rossellino.
On the wall facing the entrance is a fine marble sketch in relief, by Michael Angelo, of the Madonna and Child, grand in outline, yet possessing a grace and tenderness which has only its equal in the group of the same artist in San Lorenzo ; a winged cherub forms the diadem of the Virgin. On either side of this composition are busts by Donatello. The mask of the Satyr was chiselled by Michael Angelo when a boy of fifteen, and Vasari relates of him the following anecdote : Michael Angelo, when studying in the gardens of Lorenzo de’ Medici, near the present Piazza di San Marco, undertook to copy the mask of a Faun from the antique. He had just left the school of Ghirlandaio, and had hardly yet learnt the use of the chisel. His work was, however, so excellent as to attract the notice of Lorenzo, who observed the boy had not made a servile copy from the original, but had opened the mouth and shown the tongue and some of the teeth. Lorenzo, however, remarked that old people usually lost their teeth ; and no sooner had he left the garden than Michael Angelo broke off one tooth, and worked at the socket until he had given it the exact appearance of the gum where the tooth had dropped out.
A sarcophagus, belonging to early Christian art, on which the history of Jonah is represented, is beneath this ; it was found in the ancient Monastery of San Pancrazio in Florence, where it had been used for burial by the Temperani family, who were a branch of the Buondelmonti ; their arms, a lion rampant with wheels, such as are frequently found on Etruscan monuments, is in the central compartment. The sarcophagus was removed from San Pancrazio, and used as a trough for a drinking fountain, at one angle of the Bargello, as before mentioned from thence it was transferred to the Gallery of the Uffizi ; and was recently brought to the Museum of the Bargello.
Above this sarcophagus is a relief of the martyrdom of St. Andrew, which is attributed to Michael Angelo. The fine, unfinished bust of Brutus, to the left, is one of his undoubted works.
To the right is a bust of Giovanni delle Bande Nere. Above, on either side, are two marble comunicatorii, or shrines, to hold the bread and wine. The sculpture on them is most delicately wrought. The reliefs of St. Peter led from prison, and St. Peter’s Martyrdom, are by Luca della Robbia.
In a corner near the window is the bust of Battista Sforza, by Bernardo Rossellino (1409-1464), taken from a cast after death; Battista was the wife of Federigo di Montefeltro, and the mother of Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino, Her portrait, with that of her husband, by Piero della Francesca, are described in the Room of the Old Masters in the Uffizi Gallery.